Judaism's Great Debates: Timeless Controversies from Abraham to Herzl

Front Cover
U of Nebraska Press, Jul 1, 2012 - Religion - 112 pages
Thanks to these generous donors for making the publication of this book possible: David Lerman and Shelley Wallock; D. Walter Cohen, Wendy and Leonard Cooper; Rabbi Howard Gorin; Gittel and Alan Hilibrand; Marjorie and Jeffrey Major; Jeanette Lerman Neubauer and Joe Neubauer; Gayle and David Smith; and Harriet and Donald Young.

Ever since Abrahamęs famous argument with God, Judaism has been full of debate. Moses and Korah, David and Nathan, Hillel and Shammai, the Vilna Gaon and the Baęal Shem Tov, Spinoza and the Amsterdam Rabbis . . . the list goes on. Jews debate justice, authority, inclusion, spirituality, resistance, evolution, Zionism, and more. No wonder that Judaism cherishes the expression machloket lęshem shamayim, an argument for the sake of heaven.

ž In this concise but important survey, Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz presents the provocative and vibrant thesis that debate and disputation are not only encouraged within Judaism but reside at the very heart of Jewish history and theology. In his graceful, engaging, and creative prose, Schwartz presents an introduction to an intellectual history of Judaism through the art of argumentation.
Beyond their historical importance, what makes these disputations so compelling is that nearly all of them, regardless of their epochs, are still being argued. Schwartz builds the case that the basis of Judaism is a series of unresolved rather than resolved arguments.
ž Drawing on primary sources, and with a bit of poetic license, Schwartz reconstructs the real or imagined dialogue of ten great debates and then analyzes their significance and legacy. This parade of characters spanning three millennia of biblical, rabbinic, and modern disputation reflects the panorama of Jewish history with its monumental political, ethical, and spiritual challenges.
 

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Contents

Rabbinic Judaism
37
Modern Jud aism
65
Afterword
95
Notes
97
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
99
Recommended Reading
103
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About the author (2012)

Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz is the director of The Jewish Publication Society in Philadelphia and the spiritual leader of Congregation Adas Emuno in Leonia, New Jersey. He is the author of the acclaimed textbook Jewish Heroes, Jewish Values and several other works. Judaismęs Great Debates is also availabležin a student edition by Behrman House, Inc.

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