Spring has officially sprung here in Israel and the hills are alive with wildflowers. We’re beginning to venture out in public again after a long and strange year! So to ease back into what passes for normal, here are some literary recommendations from around the Jewish blogosphere.
Here I review a remarkable book called Judaism Reclaimed by Shmuel Phillips, which has furnished me with food for thought for the past year. Based loosely on Parashat Hashavua (the weekly Torah reading), the book is actually a philosophical examination of Jewish thought and theology.
In the course of my research for Havruta with a One-Eyed Cat, I’ll be reading a variety of books on topics ranging from Talmud to mathematical logic. Here are some musings on this week’s book: Devora Steinmetz’s Freedom & Punishment, a veritable treasure of Halakhic insight.
We’re past the sadness of Tisha b’Av and only a week later it’s Tu B’Av, the Jewish answer to Valentine’s Day. For those not out dancing in the vineyards, what could be better than pouring a glass of wine and settling down with a good book? To get you started, here are some recommendations from around the Jewish blogosphere.
We’re just past mid-summer here in Israel and the days are long and slow. It’s a good time to relax in the shade with a good book and a glass of something cold. Here are some recommendations from around the Jewish blogosphere.
Three times a day, we Jews praise God for “reviving the dead”. Some, following the prophet Ezekiel, like to think of this in metaphorical terms—the resurrection of Jewish national life out of the ashes of the past. Others see it in more literal terms. Dan Sofer presents an altogether different—and delightful—view of the rabbinical traditions surrounding the resurrection.
What does it mean when we say that human beings were created “in the image of God”. While some of the foremost Jewish philosophers, in particular the Rambam, saw Tselem Elohim as referring to the human capacity of reason, Michael Wyschogrod disagrees. His ideas tally in surprising ways with modern neuroscience.
Among the books I’ll be using for the discussions in Havrutah with a One-Eyed Cat is Martin Buber’s The Prophetic Faith. Buber speaks of the relationship between prophecy and free choice. As he makes clear, individuals, civilizations, and species all hang by the thread of a decision by one person. And that one person is all of us.
As I make my way through the stack of books that will go into the writing of my next book, probably the one that I return to most is Eliezer Berkovits’ classic Not in Heaven. Rabbi Berkovits argues for the application of human reason in deciding Halakhah, but not for the reasons commonly believed!
Letters to Josep is a delightfully fresh overview of what it means to be Jewish in Israel today. Written as a series of letters from a young woman in Israel to a Catholic penpal in Spain, the book covers just about every aspect of Judaism, from Shabbat observance and kashrut to dealing with childbirth and life-cycle events.