—from the Foreword by Arthur Hertzberg, 1995
In Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Deed and Creed, a perfect textbook for independent and classroom study, Rabbi Benjamin Blech presents a comprehensive explication of the Jewish faith. What does it meant to be a Jew? How does religion affect the ways in which Jewish people think and act? What are the basic concepts of Judaism? This volume answers these vital questions.
This volume begins with four essays on the concept of man's being born "free and equal," in the image of God. The underpinning of this concept in Jewish law is explored in Section 2, entitled "The Rule of Law." Section 3, "The Democratic Ideal," traces the foundations of democracy in the Jewish teachings in the Bible and the Talmud, which in turn influenced the whole body of Western political thought. Relations between man and man, man and woman, employer and employee, slave and master are all spelled out. Section 4 presents essays analyzing man's freedom of conscience, and his God-given rights to dissent and protest. Section 5 deals with aspects of personal liberty, including the right of privacy. Section 6, entitled "The Earth is the Lord's," deals with the Jewish view of man's transient tenancy on God's earth, his obligations not to destroy anything that lives or grows, and to share the earth's bounty with the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned. Section 7 delivers an analysis of the "end of days" vision of Micah and man's continuing need to strive for peace and not for war. The volume concludes with three new essays, dealing with contemporary issues: "In God's Image: The Religious Imperative of Equality under Law"; "The Values of a Jewish and Democratic State: The Task of Reaching a Synthesis"; and "Religious Freedom and Religious Coercion in the State of Israel."
This enlarged edition is accessibly written for a general and scholarly audience and will be of particular interest to political scientists, historians, and constitutional scholars.
The Impact of the Holocaust on Jewish Theology brings together a distinguished international array of senior scholars—many of whose work is available here in English for the first time—to consider key topics from the meaning of divine providence to questions of redemption to the link between the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel. Together, they push our thinking further about how our belief in God has changed in the wake of the Holocaust.
Contributors: Yosef Achituv, Yehoyada Amir, Ester Farbstein, Gershon Greenberg, Warren Zev Harvey, Tova Ilan, Shmuel Jakobovits, Dan Michman, David Novak, Shalom Ratzabi, Michael Rosenak, Shalom Rosenberg, Eliezer Schweid, and Joseph A. Turner.