Friday, June 1, 2012

Judaism's Great Debates Now in Print!

We members of Congregation Adas Emuno extend our sincere congratulations to our Rabbi, Barry L. Schwartz, on the publication of his latest book, Judaism's Great Debates: Timeless Controversies from Abraham to Herzl.  

The book is published by the Jewish Publication Society, and here is what they have to say about it on their website:

Ever since Abraham’s famous argument with God, Judaism has been full of debate. Moses and Korah, David and Nathan, Hillel and Shammai, the Vilna Gaon and the Ba’al 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 l’shem shamayim, “an argument for the sake of heaven.” 

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.

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.

 And there's more:

“A clear, concise introduction to some of the major confrontations in Jewish history, often leaving us thinking ‘both sides are right.’ Perfect for adult or teen study groups.”—Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
 And for readers of this post who are new to Adas Emuno, here's the author blurb from the site:

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. Judaism’s Great Debates is also being published in a student edition by Behrman House, Inc. 
 That's our Rabbi!  And in case you missed it, Rabbi Schwartz provided us with 3 posts based on the book earlier this year, in conjunction with the publication of the student edition:
 Now if all this hasn't convinced you to read the book, you can read an excerpt (pdf) and see what you'll be missing if you don't get a hold of a copy.  
It really is a must read for anyone interested in Jewish history, culture, and religion.  And that, dear friends, is not open to debate!

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