A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible.
A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible.
This collection makes Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' brilliant essays on the weekly Torah portion available in book form for the first time. Rabbi Sacks fuses Jewish tradition, Western philosophy and literature to present a highly developed understanding of the human condition under God's sovereignty.
For too long, Jews have defined themselves in light of the bad things that have happened to them. And it is true that, many times in the course of history, they have been nearly decimated: when the First and Second Temples were destroyed, when the Jews were expelled from Spain, when Hitler proposed his Final Solution. Astoundingly, the Jewish people have survived catastrophe after catastrophe and remained a thriving and vibrant community. The question Rabbi Jonathan Sacks asks is, quite simply: How? How, in the face of such adversity, has Judaism remained and flourished, making a mark on human history out of all proportion to its numbers? Written originally as a wedding gift to his son and daughter-in-law, A Letter in the Scroll is Rabbi Sacks's personal answer to that question, a testimony to the enduring strength of his religion. Tracing the revolutionary series of philosophical and theological ideas that Judaism created -- from covenant to sabbath to formal education -- and showing us how they remain compellingly relevant in our time, Sacks portrays Jewish identity as an honor as well as a duty. The Ba'al Shem Tov, an eighteenth-century rabbi and founder of the Hasidic movement, famously noted that the Jewish people are like a living Torah scroll, and every individual Jew is a letter within it. If a single letter is damaged or missing or incorrectly drawn, a Torah scroll is considered invalid. So too, in Judaism, each individual is considered a crucial part of the people, without whom the entire religion would suffer. Rabbi Sacks uses this metaphor to make a passionate argument in favor of affiliation and practice in our secular times, and invites us to engage in our dynamic and inclusive tradition. Never has a book more eloquently expressed the joys of being a Jew. This is the story of one man's hope for the future -- a future in which the next generation, his children and ours, will happily embrace the beauty of the world's oldest religion.
In this companion volume to his celebrated series Covenant & Conversation, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks mines the weekly Torah portions for insights into the nature of power, authority, and leadership. Based on the understanding that no man is born a leader, the book explores the principles, and perils, of becoming one. Profound, eloquent, and deeply inspiring, Lessons in Leadership reveals the biblical secrets of influence, as relevant now as they were three thousand years ago.
The newest book in Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg’s award-winning series of commentaries on the hebrew bible. The book of Numbers is the narrative of a great failure. What should have been for the Israelites a brief journey from Mount Sinai to the Holy Land becomes a forty-year death march. Both before and after the devastating report of the Spies, the narrative centers on the people’s desire to return to Egypt, to undo the miraculous work of the Exodus. At its heart are speeches of complaint and lament, expressing a profound existential skepticism. But by contrast, in the narrative of the book of Numbers that is found in mystical and Hasidic sources, the generation of the wilderness emerges as one of extraordinary spiritual experience, receivers of the Torah to the fullest extent, fed on miracles and nurtured directly by God: a generation of ecstatic faith, human partners in an unprecedented conversation with the Deity. Drawing on kabbalistic sources, the Hasidic commentators on the book of Numbers depict a people who transcend prudent considerations in order to follow God into the wilderness, where their spiritual yearning comes to full expression. This view of the wilderness history invites us into a different kind of listening to the many cries of distrust, lament, and resentment that issue from the Israelites throughout the book of Numbers. Is there a way to integrate this narrative of dark murmurings, of obsessive fantasies of return to Egypt, with the celebration of a love-intoxicated wilderness discourse? The question touches not only on the language the Israelites speak but also on the very nature of human utterance. Who are these people? Who are we who listen to them? What effect does the cumulative trauma of slavery, the miracles of Exodus, the revelation at Sinai, have on a nation that is beginning to speak? In Bewilderments, one of the most admired biblical commentators at work today posits fascinating answers to these questions through the magnificent literary, scholarly, and psychological analysis of the text that is her trademark. From the Hardcover edition.
A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible.
For Jews everywhere, the number 18 resonates deeply: it signifies life, as does every multiple of 18. And the Hebrew word for life is Chai. In three Times Chai, 54 rabbis introduce us to favorite stories that exemplify for them a Jewish ideal or principle: a triple helping of life's blessings in one unusual anthology. Here you will find stories that inspire, teach or simply amuse, each accompanied by a note discussing the lessons that can be drawn from it and why it is a particular rabbi's favorite. Perfect for reading aloud or alone, Three Times Chai makes a wonderful gift, a valuable resource for sermons, and a singular tool for promoting thoughtful conversation in the classroom.
New insights into how the Book of Samuel offers a timeless meditation on the dilemmas of statecraft The Book of Samuel is universally acknowledged as one of the supreme achievements of biblical literature. Yet the book's anonymous author was more than an inspired storyteller. The author was also an uncannily astute observer of political life and the moral compromises and contradictions that the struggle for power inevitably entails. The Beginning of Politics mines the story of Israel's first two kings to unearth a natural history of power, providing a forceful new reading of what is arguably the first and greatest work of Western political thought. Moshe Halbertal and Stephen Holmes show how the beautifully crafted narratives of Saul and David cut to the core of politics, exploring themes that resonate wherever political power is at stake. Through stories such as Saul's madness, David's murder of Uriah, the rape of Tamar, and the rebellion of Absalom, the book's author deepens our understanding not only of the necessity of sovereign rule but also of its costs—to the people it is intended to protect and to those who wield it. What emerges from the meticulous analysis of these narratives includes such themes as the corrosive grip of power on those who hold and compete for power; the ways in which political violence unleashed by the sovereign on his own subjects is rooted in the paranoia of the isolated ruler and the deniability fostered by hierarchical action through proxies; and the intensity with which the tragic conflict between political loyalty and family loyalty explodes when the ruler's bloodline is made into the guarantor of the all-important continuity of sovereign power. The Beginning of Politics is a timely meditation on the dark side of sovereign power and the enduring dilemmas of statecraft.
Why was Abraham ordered to sacrifice his son? Was Jacob right in stealing the blessings? Why were we commanded to destroy Amalek? What was Moses' sin in hitting the rock? And how did the Ten Commandments change the Jewish people, and humankind, for good? Essays on Ethics is the second companion volume to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks's celebrated series Covenant & Conversation. Believing the Hebrew Bible to be the ultimate blueprint for Western morality, Rabbi Sacks embarks upon an ethical exploration of the weekly Torah portion, uncovering its message of truth and justice, dignity and compassion, forgiveness and love.
With The Warrior's Honor and Virtual War, Blood and belonging forms part of the acclaimed trilogy by Michael Ignatieff on the face of modern conflict. In 1993 Michael Ignatieff set out on a journey to the former Yugoslavia, the Ukraine, Germany, Quebec, Kurdistan and Northern Ireland in order to explore the many faces of modern nationalism at its worst. Modern nationalism is a language of blood: a call to arms that can end in the horror of ethnic cleansing. But it is also a language of belonging: a call to come home. In Blood and Belonging Michael Ignatieff explores both sides of nationalism in a personal odyssey that begins in the nightmare of the former Yugoslavia and ends with his return to his adopted homeland, Great Britain's disunited kingdom.
Writing with his usual grace and fluency, Jonathan Sacks moves beyond the tired arguments of militant atheists such as Dawkins and Hitchens, to explore how religion has always played a valuable part in human culture and far from being dismissed as redundant, must be allowed to temper and develop scientific understanding in order for us to be fully human. Ranging around the world to draw comparisons from different cultures, and delving deep into the history of language and of western civilisation, Jonathan Sacks shows how the predominance of science-oriented thinking is embedded deeply even in our religious understanding, and calls on us to recognise the centrality of relationship to true religion, and thus to see how this core value of relationship is essential if we are to avoid the natural tendency for science to rule our lives rather than fulfilling its promise to set us free.
***National Jewish Book Awards 2012, Finalist*** Dorot Foundation Award for Modern Jewish Thought and Experience An impassioned, erudite, thoroughly researched, and beautifully reasoned book from one of the most admired religious thinkers of our time that argues not only that science and religion are compatible, but that they complement each other—and that the world needs both. “Atheism deserves better than the new atheists,” states Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “whose methodology consists of criticizing religion without understanding it, quoting texts without contexts, taking exceptions as the rule, confusing folk belief with reflective theology, abusing, mocking, ridiculing, caricaturing, and demonizing religious faith and holding it responsible for the great crimes against humanity. Religion has done harm; I acknowledge that. But the cure for bad religion is good religion, not no religion, just as the cure for bad science is good science, not the abandonment of science.” Rabbi Sacks’s counterargument is that religion and science are the two essential perspectives that allow us to see the universe in its three-dimensional depth. Science teaches us where we come from. Religion explains to us why we are here. Science is the search for explanation. Religion is the search for meaning. We need scientific explanation to understand nature. We need meaning to understand human behavior. There have been times when religion tried to dominate science. And there have been times, including our own, when it is believed that we can learn all we need to know about meaning and relationships through biochemistry, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology. In this fascinating look at the interdependence of religion and science, Rabbi Sacks explains why both views are tragically wrong. From the Hardcover edition.
Chumash with commentary based on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Like her Great-Aunt Resi, Annette Gendler, a German, fell in love with a Jewish man but unlike her aunt, whose marriage was destroyed by the Nazi times, Gendler found a way to make her impossible love survive."