From Defender to Critic: The Search for a New Jewish Self

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9781580235150: From Defender to Critic: The Search for a New Jewish Self
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A Vital, Living Judaism Can Be Found When the Voice of the Past Engages Modern Experience

"[This] synthesis of tradition and modernity is not a philosophy meant to serve as the platform for a new movement or institution, but a process of living experience among individuals and communities that choose to adopt its angle of vision. It is a process that demands constant introspection and renewal and cannot be branded or co-opted by any formal or official frame of reference. It stands separate from all expressions of institutionalized Judaism, as it never knows what new forces it will absorb as it moves into the future."
―from the Introduction

Dr. David Hartman, the world's leading modern Orthodox theologian, presents his own painful spiritual evolution from defender of the rule-based system of Jewish law to revolutionary proponent of a theology of empowerment, one that encourages individuals and communities to take greater levels of responsibility for their religious lives. In this daring self-examination, he explains how his goals were not to strip halakha―or the past―of its authority but to create a space for questioning and critique that allows for the traditionally religious Jew to act out a moral life in tune with modern experience.

In achieving this synthesis of tradition with the sensibilities of contemporary Judaism, Hartman captures precisely what creates vitality in living Judaism and charts the path to nurture its vitality forever.

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About the Author:

A world-renowned philosopher and social activist, Dr. David Hartman (z"l) was the founder and president emeritus of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Named after his late father, the Institute is dedicated to developing a new understanding of classical Judaism that provides moral and spiritual direction for Judaism's confrontation with modernity.

Formerly professor emeritus at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University's theological seminary in New York City. He is the author of many award-winning books, including From Defender to Critic: The Search for a New Jewish Self; The God Who Hates Lies: Confronting and Rethinking Jewish Tradition; A Heart of Many Rooms: Celebrating the Many Voices within Judaism, finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and a Publishers Weekly "Best Book of the Year"; and Love and Terror in the God Encounter: The Theological Legacy of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (all Jewish Lights). His classic works A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism (Jewish Lights) and Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest both were winners of the National Jewish Book Award.

Review:

"What matters to Hartman is the truth, not the source―even if it's the Torah. Courageous.... Every serious Jew should read this inspiring and enlightening book."
Jewish Media Review

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