Torah Umadda: The Encounter of Religious Learning and Worldly Knowledge in the Jewish Tradition

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9780876688106: Torah Umadda: The Encounter of Religious Learning and Worldly Knowledge in the Jewish Tradition

The centrality of Torah_Jewish learning_in Judaism is beyond doubt, but less clear is the value that can or should be attached to Madda, secular knowledge. Is non-religious learning desirable, essential, optional- or even permitted? Can one's Jewish experience be enriched by exposure to poetry, art, history, and science? And, if the study of Torah is indeed the single most important precept of Judaism, how much room does this leave for the rest of human intellect pursuit? Torah Umadda, a provocative work by the president of Yeshiva University, shows that these concerns are by no means unprecedented. As Dr. Lamm writes, 'The intersections of Torah and Wisdom are not always clear; indeed, they are more often than not elusive and indeterminate. But the encounter between them is fruitful, sometimes fateful_and always fascinating.' Dr. Lamm explores six models of Torah Umadda, providing thorough overviews of such great Jewish thinkers as Moses Maimonides, Samson Raphael Hirsch, and Abraham Isaac Kook. He examines the ideological context of late eighteenth-and early nineteenth-century Jewish religious thought that culminated in the creation of the citadel of Torah Umadda, Yeshiva University. And, borrowing from the work of more contemporary figures, he proposes a number of fresh approaches to the age-old issue. The result is an intriguing, incisive, and remarkably candid vision of a major issue confronting and frequently dividing contemporary Orthodox Jewry. Challenging, illuminating, and, above all, synthesizing, Torah Umadda provides a seminal and widely awaited 'mission statement' by a modern renaissance man on the continuing philosophical-theological validity of one of contemporary Judaism's most fertile fields. Simultaneously scholarly and passionate, Torah Umadda itself shines as a brilliant example of that very school of thought it so eloquently puts forth.

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About the Author:

Dr. Norman Lamm, president of Yeshiva University and Jakob and Erna Michael Professor of Jewish Philosophy, is also the founding editor of Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought. Dr. Lamm has written six books including Torah Lishmah and Faith and Doubt. He is currently a member of New York State's Ethics Commission and lives in New York City.

Review:

Torah Umadda is an outstanding achievement. Lamm is a fine scholar and an impassioned advocate. He has written much and he has written beautifully. But this work is more than just another book. It is the most complete statement he has yet attempted of his philosophy of Judaism. (Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of Great Britian)

Dr. Lamm has written a remarkably spirited, passionately advocatory book which draws upon an exceedingly rich array of traditional Jewish sources and modern thought. (Rabbi Yitzhak Twersky, Harvard University)

Dr. Lamm has written a thoughtful and often incisive discussion of a major issues confronting and frequently dividing contemporary Orthodox Jewry. Its subject is a perennial concern of religious philosophy, but its significance has been greatly enhanced by modern secularization and varied Jewish responses to it. (Aharon Lichtenstein, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivat Har Etzion)

Torah Umadda makes an impassioned, enthusiastic argument for the inclusion of all disciplines of wisdom into the embrace of Torah. For the reader who seeks an insightful and original analysis of how secular knowledge has been viewed by the Torah leaders from the Talmud to our day, this volume is a thought-provoking and original contribution. (Algemeiner Journal)

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Lamm, Norman
Published by Mar 01, 1990 (1990)
ISBN 10: 0876688105 ISBN 13: 9780876688106
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