Synopses & Reviews
In this fresh and lucid study, Ariel presents the fundamentals of Jewish thought on the profound issues of God, human destiny, good and evil, Torah, and messianism, guiding the reader toward a definition of the beliefs that shape Jewish identity. This lively exploration of Jewish ideas and beliefs provides a rationale and stimulus for anyone seeking to understand or reconnect to the rich and diverse spiritual tradition of Judaism.
Once understood as an inherited tradition, religion is increasingly viewed today as a matter of personal choice, an experience to be examined and explored. Yet while many American Jews feel an emotional attachment to Judaism, they cannot always articulate the beliefs that define their faith. In this provocative study, David Ariel explores the diverse and colorful views of Jewish thinkers on the profound issues of God, human destiny, good and evil, chosenness, Torah, and messianism, among many other subjects. Despite a diversity of views, Ariel finds an overarching structure in the "sacred myths" that Jews of every orientation return to as their core beliefs - the essential ideas that each generation strives to interpret and apply to life. To call these beliefs "myths" does not mean that they are fairy tales, but rather that they are starting points that define the essence of faith. Meaning, Ariel argues, is always presented in the language of the myths, or beliefs, that a culture holds sacred, and the sacred myths of Judaism reveal the special nature of Jewish spirituality. This spirited, clarifying discussion guides us toward a definition of the beliefs that shape Jewish identity, providing the rationale and stimulus for a reconnection to the spiritual tradition of Judaism.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 271-278) and index.
About the Author
DAVID S. ARIEL was has been president of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies since 2008. He also served as president of Siegal College of Jewish Studies (Cleveland, Ohio) for twenty-five years. He has lectured widely on Jewish subjects worldwide. Dr Ariel has written four books including Kabbalah: The Mystic Quest in Judaism and What do Jews Believe? The Spiritual Foundations of Judaism.