Synopses & Reviews
A publishing sensation long at the top of the best-seller lists in Israel, the original Hebrew edition of Maimonides and the Book That Changed Judaism
has been called the most successful book ever published in Israel on the preeminent medieval Jewish thinker Moses Maimonides. The works of Maimonides, particularly The Guide for the Perplexed
, are reckoned among the fundamental texts that influenced all subsequent Jewish philosophy and also proved to be highly influential in Christian and Islamic thought.
Spanning subjects ranging from God, prophecy, miracles, revelation, and evil, to politics, messianism, reason in religion, and the therapeutic role of doubt, Maimonides and the Book That Changed Judaism elucidates the complex ideas of The Guide in remarkably clear and engaging prose.
Drawing on his own experience as a central figure in the current Israeli renaissance of Jewish culture and spirituality, Micah Goodman brings Maimonidess masterwork into dialogue with the intellectual and spiritual worlds of twenty-first-century readers. Goodman contends that in Maimonidess view, the Torahs purpose is not to bring clarity about God but rather to make us realize that we do not understand God at all; not to resolve inscrutable religious issues but to give us insight into the true nature and purpose of our lives.
"Although it involves biblical characters, the widely known story of Abraham's smashing the idols in the shop of his father, Terah, is not in the Bible. Nevertheless, according to author Salkin (The Modern Men's Torah Commentary), it is the forerunner of monotheism, the beginning of Jewish history, and may 'be the most important Jewish story ever told.' His book tries to demonstrate the truth of these contentions by examining commentaries on the story by theologians, poets, writers, philosophers, a composer, and an artist. He examines the implications of the story for Christians and Muslims and its relationship to anti-Semitism. Salkin, a Reform rabbi, gave up his congregational pulpit to become director of the Anti-Defamation League's New Jersey office, claiming that this move gives him a new opportunity to fight against bigotry in general and anti-Semitism in particular. He makes impressive claims for the overriding significance of this story, but surely many biblical stories can arguably be considered to be 'the most important Jewish story.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The story of Abraham smashing his fathers idols might be the most important Jewish story ever told and the key to how Jews define themselves. In a work at once deeply erudite and wonderfully accessible, Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin conducts readers through the life and legacy of this powerful story and explains how it has shaped Jewish consciousness.
Offering a radical view of Jewish existence, The Gods Are Broken! views the story of the young Abraham as the “primal trauma” of Jewish history, one critical to the development of a certain Jewish comfort with rebelliousness and one that, happening in every generation, has helped Jews develop a unique identity. Salkin shows how the story continues to reverberate through the ages, even in its connection to the phenomenon of anti-Semitism.
Salkins work—combining biblical texts, archaeology, rabbinic insights, Hasidic texts (some never before translated), philosophy, history, poetry, contemporary Jewish thought, sociology, and popular culture—is nothing less than a journey through two thousand years of Jewish life and intellectual endeavor.
The Lost Matriarch
offers a unique response to the sparse and puzzling biblical treatment of the matriarch Leah. Although Leah is a major figure in the book of Genesis, the biblical text allows her only a single word of physical description and two lines of direct dialogue. The Bible tells us little about the effects of her lifelong struggles in an apparently loveless marriage to Jacob, the husband she shares with three other wives, including her beautiful younger sister, Rachel. Fortunately, two thousand years of traditional and modern commentators have produced many fascinating interpretations (midrash) that reveal the far richer story of Leah hidden within the text.
Through Jerry Rabowand#8217;s weaving of biblical text and midrash, readers learn the lessons of the remarkable Leah, who triumphed over adversity and hardship by living a life of moral heroism. The Lost Matriarch reveals Leahand#8217;s full story and invites readers into the delightful, provocative world of creative rabbinic and literary commentary. By experiencing these midrashic insights and techniques for reading and#8220;between the lines,and#8221; readers are introduced to what for many will be an exciting new method of personal Bible interpretation.
The dramatic one-thousand-year history of Jews in Spain comes to life in Exiles in Sepharad
. Jeffrey Gorsky vividly relates this colorful period of Jewish history, from the era when Jewish culture was at its height in Muslim Spain to the horrors of the Inquisition and the Expulsion.
Twenty percent of Jews today are descended from Sephardic Jews, who created significant works in religion, literature, science, and philosophy. They flourished under both Muslim and Christian rule, enjoying prosperity and power unsurpassed in Europe. Their cultural contributions include important poets; the great Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides; and Moses de Leon, author of the Zohar, the core text of the Kabbalah.
But these Jews also endured considerable hardship. Fundamentalist Islamic tribes drove them from Muslim to Christian Spain. In 1391 thousands were killed and more than a third were forced to convert by anti-Jewish rioters. A century later the Spanish Inquisition began, accusing thousands of these converts of heresy. By the end of the fifteenth century Jews had been expelled from Spain and forcibly converted in Portugal and Navarre. After almost a millennium of harmonious existence, what had been the most populous and prosperous Jewish community in Europe ceased to exist on the Iberian Peninsula.
This fiftieth anniversary edition of W. Gunther Plauts classic volume on the beginnings of the Jewish Reform Movement is updated with a new introduction by Howard A. Berman. The Rise of Reform Judaism covers the first one hundred years of the movement, from the time of the eighteenth-century Jewish Enlightenment leader Moses Mendelssohn to the conclusion of the Augsburg synod in 1871.
In these pages the founders who established liberal Judaism speak for themselves through their journals and pamphlets, books and sermons, petitions and resolutions, and public arguments and disputations. Each selection includes Plauts brief introduction and sketch of the reformer. Important topics within Judaism are addressed in these writings: philosophy and theology, religious practice, synagogue services, and personal life, as well as controversies on the permissibility of organ music, the introduction of the sermon, the nature of circumcision, the observance of the Sabbath, the rights of women, and the authenticity of the Bible.
Eight Questions of Faith is a spiritual exploration of some of life’s biggest questions—questions that have been asked by prophets and kings, mystics and sinners, and that continue to be asked by every one of us today. Niles Elliot Goldstein uses eight questions found in the Bible to explore the human journey from cradle to grave, confronting such important existential experiences and themes as mortality, responsibility, forbidden knowledge, sin, and the afterlife. By interweaving texts from the Bible, commentaries, philosophy, psychology, and literature with his own experiences, Goldstein also meditates on midlife. This book will appeal to believers and nonbelievers alike and is aimed at anyone who has ever faced a challenge or wondered what life is all about.
About the Author
Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut (1912-2012) was a longtime rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. The author of more than twenty books on Jewish theology, history, and culture, he is best known for The Torah: A Modern Commentary. Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof (1892-1990) was a leader of the Reform Jewish Movement and a world-renowned interpreter of Jewish law. Rabbi Howard A. Berman is the executive director of the Society for Classical Reform Judaism. He lectures at congregations throughout the country on behalf of the society and teaches regularly at Hebrew Union College.