The Woman who Laughed at God: The Untold History of the Jewish People

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Viking, 2001 - Religion - 317 pages
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In the Woman Who Laughed at God, bestselling author Jonathan Kirsch us on a lively and at times controversial journey through Jewish history that offers answers to the complex and difficult question "Who is a Jew?" Today, Jewish peoples are divided by differences of faith, practice, and political antagonism. For every accepted tradition in Jewish faith there are countertraditions with their roots going back to ancient times. Kirsch's illuminating work reveals that -- even in ancient times -- Judaism was never a single faith.

Emblematic of the varieties of Jewish expression is the biblical tale of Sarah, the pious matriarch who laughed at God when He promised her a child in advanced old age. The Torah itself confirms that Judaism has a place even for someone as light-hearted and irreverent as Sarah, and for the many other men and women whose stories are told in The Woman Who Laughed at God. We also encounter the Maccabee freedom fighters who closed the Bible and picked up a sword; dervishlike ecstatics who claimed to enjoy direct communication with God even after they had been excommunicated by a distrustful rabbinate; and courageous pioneers for whom a "kosher pig" was any pig fortunate enough to be raised in a kibbutz and slaughtered to feed hungry kibbutzniks. With drama and narrative verve, Kirsch explores the mysticism and magic that have informed a bookish faith.

Jews across the spectrum and anyone who loved Thomas Cahill's The Gifts of the Jews will be fascinated and inspired by this celebration of the Jewish faith, rich in untold stories and revelatory interpretations.

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The woman who laughed at God: the untold history of the Jewish people

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Los Angeles Times book columnist Kirsch has written such well-received and popular titles as King David and The Harlot by the Side of the Road. Here he continues to counter the many books lamenting ... Read full review

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And Sarah Laughed
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About the author (2001)

Jonathan Kirsch is a book columnist for the Los Angeles Times and author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed King David, Moses, The Harlot by the Side of the Road, and The Woman Who Laughed at God. He lectures and consults widely on biblical, literary, and legal topics and is a past president of PEN Center USA West.

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