Monthly Archives: March 2010

Shlomo Pines and Yoga

I just discovered that there is a website and society dedicated to the memory of Professor Shlomo Pines of The Hebrew University. Pines is popularly associated with his translation of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed, but for scholars he is known for his seminal articles on almost everything. As a polyglot he had an uncanny ability to find kabbalah in Church Fathers, show that Judeo-Christians lasted for many more centuries than we thought, explain the atominism in Gaonic writings, find Ismaeli and Shiite influence on Halevi, contextualize Maimonides in the thought of Farabi and Ibn Bajja, find Hinduism in Arabic texts, and show how scholastics used Jewish thought.

Ever year they have a guest speaker in his honor. This year’s lecture in his honor is Prof. Jean-Luc Marion (of the French Academy, The University of Paris-Sorbonne and the University of Chicago) will be our next lecturer for the Shlomo Pines annual lecture at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He will speak on “Saint-Augustine and the Naming of God – idipsum”
The lecture will be held on March 11, 2010 at 18:30 at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
It will be followed by a seminar on Friday, 12 March from 10:00 to 12:00 at the Belgium House, Givat Ram, the Hebrew University.
You missed the lecture but try and catch the seminar. Marion is known for bringing God back into phenomenology.

The website has four articles about the life and thought of Shlomo Pines well worth reading

It also has a few articles of the dozens that Pines wrote available as pdf’s. It seems they started this project and then left off. But the articles that the web site does have up are his four articles that contain transcriptions and analysis of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as available in their Arabic translation. Also available are articles on the use of Indian and Buddhist thought in the Kalam

These articles show that Jews in Muslim lands knew about various aspects of Indian religions through the Arabic (and Persian) mediators. The earliest Muslim scholar to show sustained interest in Indian religious and philosophical texts was the great scientist and philosopher al-Biruni (973-1048). He translated a number of Sanskrit works into Arabic (including selections from Patañjali’s Yogasūtras and the Bhagavad-Gita) in connection with his encyclopedic treatise on India. Al-Biruni did not translate the names of foreign deities, nor did he incorporate other gods into his own theology. Like those who translated polytheistic Greek texts into Arabic, al-Biruni rendered the Sanskrit gods (deva) with the Arabic terms for angels (malā’ikah) or spiritual beings (rūhāniyyāt), a theological shift aiding in the acceptance of Indian texts. Well- versed Jewish readers would have been acquainted with these translations and would have been thereby shielded from the foreign god implications of the original texts. These texts created a universal commonality since they understood Indian religions as monotheistic. In a similar manner, Jakata tales and the life of the Buddha tales became the various Hebrew collections of tales we know as the King and the Ascetic.

Atheist Convention

The Global Atheist Convention will commence this week in Melbourne, with speakers such as Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer, A. C. Grayling and Phillip Adams. A new blog Questions of Faith will provide coverage and analysis of the Convention as it unfolds.
Questions of Faith of the 2010 Global Atheist Convention. The Convention – titled The Rise of Atheism – begins on Friday 12 March and ends on Sunday 14 March.
From Tuesday 9 March the blog Questions of Faith will feature posts anticipating the Convention and its emerging program. It will then follow as much of the program of the Convention as possible and we hope to include pictures and audio excerpts.
The blog wilt be beyond skepticism and move into a more theological direction. As the blog as already noted the importance of atheism for faith, “this is why in the work of great religious thinkers – Kierkegaard or Milton or Dostoevsky – one can scarcely tell at times whether they are advocating belief in God or the most devastating atheism. The line between the two is often blurred.”

Since they will be posting a ton of material this weekend, let me know if anything is really good.

Three Guideposts on a Thursday

Last Thursday, I received notice about three events that will define modern Orthodoxy more than things that people are shouting about. A Mekhon Hadar lecture on Halakhah, Aliza Hausman on Memoirs of a Jewminicana, and Orthodox outreach as fun.

The first email I received was that Mekhon Hadar was webcasting the shiurim of Rabbi Ethan Tucker on the core issues of Halakhah. According to my reliable inside source, more women from the Stern learning program (GPATS) are attending or involved with Hadar than with Maharat.. Women don’t need to be debated about they can just opt out. Hadar does not worry about the Agudah or about the RCA or the RA nor even about blogs. The question will be how many men, especially graduates of the new hesder programs they will attract. How many gen y’s will find this the answer for our times?

The first lecture was all about the need for commitment to halakhah but without sectarianism. Tucker said regardless of who was appropriate for the nineteenth century, in our age we should choose Rav Bamberger over Rabbi S.R. Hirsch in working with the entire Jewish community instead of creating a sectarian enclave. We already survived the onslaught of modernity, we do not need to be sectarian anymore. He gave three reasons for giving up sectarianism: (1) It creates a distorted halakhah, shielded from the lives of real people. It considers the lives of real people strange and answers questions that fewer and fewer care about. (2) It writes off most Jews. It does not trust their natural intuitions and there is major gap between the people and an idealized halakhah. [This should probably be broken into two reasons- AB]. (3) lt lets secular Jews off the hook. But in real life, even the secular have a stake in the halkhah through marriage, conversion, and fluidity of lives.

Halakhah must be real life not ideal projection or ideal people. The Rabbis of the Talmud recognized the big gap between an ideal and after the fact-bidieved. This is in contrast to the second temple sectarians. We need to avoid constructing a halakhah that can only be followed by a small group. We should not glibly write people out. Short term sectarian success will lead to long term irrelevance
The question is how many will opt out of the modern orthodox debates in order to join this approach.

The second was about the Teaneck performance of Aliza Hausman, Memoirs of a Jewminicana as a women’s only Rosh Hodesh group (I know it was not really Rosh Hodesh) at the local reform Temple. Outside of East Coast enclaves, modern orthodoxy has large numbers of Jews by choice, people who affiliate from diverse ethnic backgrounds, couples where one of the spouses converted, and people who discover their Judaism after long and interesting journeys. The question is how much will these diverse eclectic orthodox communities see themselves as separate from the provincial enclaves and how much will the provincial enclaves reject the actual demographics of the community? As I told someone who is a macher at one of the local orthodox shuls and who agreed with my question because his Midwest hometown has this eclectic demographic- So why did your NJ shul not sponsor the evening? and he said your right we need to start.

The third item that came to my attention on Thursday morning was the WSJ article on the new YU Rabbi doing outreach in the bay area. What stuck out was the emphasis on fun, fun, fun. I have noticed that quite a bit in recent modern orthodox shul and kiruv events, we are fun. They are not promising meaning in life or Torah, but fun. Will modern orthodoxy take on the persona of Southern Methodist University, football, cheerleaders, and tailgate parties, God and beer? I have seen posters that say we not like the others that are no fun, we are the fun group. Will those who want learning seek it elsewhere? Will this approach lead to success of places like Hadar for those who want learning? The article states “there is room for having fun.” The next day, she joined about 50 people who watched the Super Bowl on the synagogue’s 110-inch screen. Super Bowl parties, a Chanukah gathering with a keg for adults

The new rabbi also adopts elements from the Chabad and Aish playbook: “he had put together a beginners’ service for the High Holidays. Last fall, he opened a preschool across the street from the synagogue to help bring in families.” And like Chabad and Aish he envisions our Judaism as practiced today as the same way as Moshe practiced his Judaism.. “It’s an ambitious mission trying to bridge the gaps between the outside world and making the religion—the way it was practiced 3,000 years ago—more relevant.”

Time will tell how these elements define the community. But they are some of the current issues.

Copyright © 2010 Alan Brill • All Rights Reserved

Further Adventures in new Zohar scholarship

We have previously looked at the Zohar scholarship of Daniel Abrams, and Melila Hellner-Eshed, Now we look at Oded Yisraeli in a new article “Honoring Father and Mother in Early Kabbalah: From Ethos to Mythos” JQR 99/3 Summer 2009 396-415

Yisraeli looks at a piece of Zohar where R. Hiyya identifies the father with binah, R. Abba identifies it with hokhmah, but R. Yossi identifies it with tiferet. Why does R. Yossi lower the identity of Father? Ans: to be more like Rabbinic texts.

Others have noted (Fishbane, Liebes, Heller-Eshed) that the names in the Zohar each portray different sources. Usually the names reflect a procession from Midrash to Gerona Kabbalah to Castillian Kabblah. But this case offer insight into the relationship of Zohar with Rabbinics.

Mother and Father are portrayed as the higher sefirot is everywhere before the Zohar, including Bahir and Gerona. The source is a variety of Logos theories and personification of the Nous and the highest levels.But starting with the Zohar Mother and Father are lowered to Tiferet and Malkhut. Yisraeli claims that the shift in this case reflects a return to Rabbinics, especially the Mekhilta also cited in the Talmud, and Philo.
The Talmud states that one honors one’s parents because it is honoring the Holy One, Blessed be He. Alternately in Philo, “parents are the created Gods”

Gerald Blidstein in his classic work Honor Thy Father and Mother, shows the prevalence of this idea in Stoic sources. But Blidstein sharply differentiates the rabbis from the Hellenistic sources because the Rabbis do not essentialize, and in fact treat God using a parent metaphor. In contrast, Yisraeli claims, that even without denying some difference between the Hellenistic sources and the Rabbinic, the later readers of the rabbinic tradition in later midrash and then in Kabbalah, in fact did essentialize. Kabblah presents an essentialist reading of Hazal.
The Kabblaists were drawing the connection between the earthly father and the divine father of HKBH, creating a tight parallel.

Yehudah Liebes (1994) already noted the reading of the live images of rabbinics into a “stiff” kabbalistic framework.
Yisraeli claims that nevertheless many of these live images were repressed and not used in the later rabbinic texts and they return afresh in kabbalah. He also claims that the new sefirot symbol makes a stronger case for the ethical imperative.

He finds a similar process in how “the land of Israel” is identified with malkhut. A repressed live myth of the land of Israel as divine realm returns as a need to cleave to malkhut. Before the 13th century when the goal was a restored Divine name, it did not have the same ethical import.
He has studies on the process of moving from midrash to Zohar of the images of Eliyahu, Avrham, Esau, the land of Israel, and has forthcoming book on Tree of Life by Magnes Press. I look forward to reading it.

His forthcoming book will deal with the theme of the Tree of Life and show that the tree as essentialized in certain [Biblical and ] rabbinic passages, then the entire Divine realm is a tree (Bahir) and finally only Tiferet is a tree, but one can join to it, creating a stronger symbol.

Are you essential? Well, Hazal are essential according to the early kabbalah.

From conservative anti-intellectualism to liberal anti-intellectualism

Taken from an emergent Church blog in which the author is frustrated by the new form anti-intellectualism of the emergent Church. It is no longer the right wing rejection of college,liberalism, and ideas, rather now it is a new liberal anti-intellectualism. Does it ring true about Jewish circles? Can one only preach to the choir for a short time before it is anti-intellectual? Does communal experience and anecdote trump coherent articulation among modern Orthodox Jews?

From conservative anti-intellectualism to liberal anti-intellectualism:
This one has me the most frustrated. I was drawn to the emerging church conversation because I saw vigorous questioning and thoughtful exploration… And certainly there are several young, postmodern emerging/emergent theologians who are making rigorous arguments and thoughtful claims. But I’ve become more and more concerned at a creeping anti-intellectualism among some of the loudest voices who rest on rhetorical questions, anecdotal evidence, and communal experiences over philosophical and theological articulation and argument. This, I believe, follows from the previous inversions because your don’t have to really say anything or land anywhere because we are all merely in an endless conversation. Essentially, everything is a rhetorical display without any real substance. And really, you can only score so many rhetorical points before you are only preaching to the choir (which is a form a fundamentalism itself, is it not?). I have been a part of numerous conversations that only go so deep before an implied anti-intellectualism takes over.
When a certain form of radical questioning takes the well worn paths of protestant liberalism, or mirror forms of Hegelianism, it does not good to just assert that “we” aren’t doing that old thing, you have to actually show how things are different, you have to defend and articulate what is going on.
This is the role of an ‘organic theologian’, to both articulate within a community what is happening, and express to larger communities why it makes sense. To only do the former without the latter is to perpetuate a fundamentalism on the other side of the equation. Hence my claim of an inverted anti-intellectualism. Fundamentalist, Evangelicals, Hippies, the Seeker-Church, and now many Missional/Emergent types play this card as a way of calling into question the power of the establishment. Now I’m not saying there aren’t issues of power going on, but have faith in your ideas and practices, show the world, make your case, and make a difference. Don’t just claim that the powers are keeping you out without even actually making an argument so saying that others won’t understand. Taken from here.

No More Modern: Intuitions and Habitas

Another good post at the Immanent Frame, this one is by Penny Edgell, tries to overcome seeing religion as a combination of Modernity and Orthodoxy, where the two are separate ideas that clash or need to be rationalized. For example, it wants to overcome seeing Modern and Orthodoxy as two conflicting ideas because then all discussions become mired in issues of authority and maintaining boundaries of Orthodoxy.

Edgell uses the model of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. We act intuitively and then post-hoc create rationalizations and systems. For her, religious decisions are pre-conscious. The actual pre-conscious categories are things like “respect for authority, the importance of in-group loyalty, and a drive to maintain purity/sanctity.” Those who want to keep things exactly as they are and those who like variety are playing out the same psychological positions they had in kindergarten but now they post-hoc explain it by the religious tradition. Some kids put all their toys in perfect rows and others liked them all around. Some kids felt spoiled and privileged while others liked sharing and saw play time as a collective.

In this approach, it is not a question of how much modern change the religious system can take or how one needs to listen to authority. If it were, then it would be a constant clash. Rather, one has pre-conscious vision of the world and the religious debates are post-hoc- useful for ideologues to frame as a tension of modernity and religion.

Or to use the habitas model, Gladwell mentions how professionals know in a blink how to act in their chosen field. Lawyers, doctors, firefighters, and storekeepers have different ranges of intuitions. A law partner has one intuition that this religious act fits in with his life, a social worker has a different intuition, and an IT person who is home by 5:30 has another intuition about life. They then after the fact justify their original intuitions with discussions of religious authority. Intuitions about maintaining a Life in Midwood, Brooklyn are not the same as intuitions about living in Berkeley, CA.

I once did a study of how people use the word Chumra for a talk I gave and I found that it matched this model. People don’t mind strictness that makes immediate sense with their habitas, they mind it when they intuitively feel the strictness does not fit their habitas. Most of the use of the word, occurs when different intuitions or habitas clash or even meet.

In the original 1950’s sorting hat of denominations, differences in class, caste, education, and location led to separating out into different denominations. Now that we have a wide range of habitats within a single denomination, the clashing intuitions are bound to occur.

The people who are performance-foodie-kabbalah of tu beshevat are not those of obedience-newspapers-eating the same thing. One does not have to mention authority or modernity to explain their differences. See prior discussion here.

Or the loss of modernity as temporality in modern orthodoxy and the subsequent inability for those modern to articulate any aspiration may need to be replaced with an understanding of different intuitions or that they live in different habitas. See discussion here- this older post is definitely worth returning to in order to integrate it into this post.

Read the excerpt below- then consider if we should still rarefy religion out of the full habitas of our lives.

The originating and continuing impetus behind sociological inquiry into religion has been a sense that religion is “at odds” with modernity, continually undermined by ongoing rationalization.
From this perspective, the religion that thrives in the modern world, to borrow (and perhaps misuse) a metaphor from Mary Douglas, is a pig that has learned to chew its cud, an ill-fitting social form transformed into something that fits, albeit precariously, in the modern order. The pervasive unease about whether religion can maintain its role in highly modernized societies drives the substance of sociological inquiry—can the pig keep chewing its cud, can religion continue to fit in the modern world, or is the transformation ultimately doomed to failure?
Central debates have revolved around issues of religious authority, understood as the authority of religious elites and officials to compel respect, and the authority of orthodox doctrinal statements to compel assent and to shape behaviors.
The first is suggested by research in cognitive and social psychology that views consciousness as a two-level phenomenon, with most motivations for behavior originating in an underlying, pre-rational level (the gut, or “blink,” reaction made famous by Malcolm Gladwell). Rationalized beliefs and belief systems, including religious ones, are in this view largely just that—post-hoc rationalizations of the real underlying motives for action.
These underlying motivations are pre-conscious moral, aesthetic, and practical impulses and habits—if that sounds like the habitus, that is in fact an adequate way to translate these concepts for sociologists. If religion is understood as a cultural phenomenon that expresses underlying pre-conscious moral and aesthetic impulses, that takes much of the wind from the sails of the strong program.
For example, Jon Haidt, an influential cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia, calls for an approach that investigates … these include respect for authority, the importance of in-group loyalty, and a drive to maintain purity/sanctity.

Full Version

Rav Shagar z”l, Purim, the Princess and the Plebian

In the fairy tale of the princess and the frog, how does the frog turn into a prince? In the modern versions the princess kisses the frog. But in the early modern versions, she throws the frog at the wall to smash him. During that era, only by doing the opposite can one achieve one’s goal.
In addition during that time period, they distinguished between the inner and outer self. Shakespeare’s character Polonius advised Laertes  about both of these aspects: “to thine own self be true,” and also to dress well: “For the apparel oft proclaims the man.”

During these three centuries, the Purim Torah was filled with sinning for the sake of heaven, fortunate falls, fortunate faults, this day is a tikkun for haman, the need to do the opposite of intellect and get drunk, things not appearing what they seem. Each in his own way, Maharal, Shelah, Ramhal, Yonathan Eybeschutz, and the Izbitzer had these approaches. (If it was still Purim time, then I would give lots of examples, maybe next year.)

But what I find interesting is that Rav Shagar Z”l advocates going back to this material in what he considers the post-modern condition, the needs of what he calls “the Jewish intellectual.” His Purim Shiurim were translated three years ago as a small book, ideal for giving as mishloach manot, which I did when I received a bunch when they came out. But his Torah does not catch on here.

In his book Change and Providence, he advocates drinking to oblivion, we need to get beyond intellect and cognition, all divisions are meaningless to the eye, all is an inner divine providence, there is a holy haman in our “”will to power” needed to create, we need to get beyond Torah as a burden or as neurosis, we rejoice through destroying the ordinary categories, Purim is beyond history and celebrates the loss of all categories, it is the holiday of the fragmentary nature of our lives.

Can one group go back and understand reality in a different way. Can one adopt the cosmology of a different era? In 1700 many people thought that way as their natural cosmology, does it have the same affect if it is artifice and constructed self?

Yet, the Tablet had an article that Purim may be the holiday for this generation. “Sanctioning a host of transgressive behaviors—from drunkenness to masquerading in costume—and commemorating a tale of Jewish valor that culminates in the slaughter of 75,000 Persians more than 2,000 years ago, Purim is increasingly providing Jews of all backgrounds and ages with an opportunity to engage with whatever concerns them personally and politically.”

Modernist Postscript:

Rav Soloveitchik as a staunch advocate of the intellect, generally used the midrash on Ahashveros as foolish to show how America and Jewish values are different. He generally stuck up for a Boston Brahmin position as the Jewish position. In my era, he used this moment to make fun of President Reagan as plebian, uneducated, a fool, and not someone the Torah thinks should be in leadership. He seems influenced by the rhetoric of Richard Hofstadter, which was also emphasized in the secular curriculum at Maimonides.

The Second Characteristic (Persia versus U.S.) In Persia there was an anti-aristocratic movement where the average citizen was the hero. He was the ordinary and mediocre man. (In America who is the all American boy? Is it the great student, the researcher, the scientist? No, the all American boy is the uncultured basketball or baseball player.) Then, the ordinary man was looked upon as the right man. Achashueros celebrated his rise to power in a common way. He himself was a usurper to the throne and he hated the cultured. He was sly, a Stalin, cunning, who wrangled his way to the top. Achashueros hated the nobility! Yet, why did he invite them separately to a party for no less than 180 days? He needed them because they controlled the army. The megilah terms it “Chale, Paras u’Madai” (the commanders of the forces). Those who control the army are the bosses. They were responsible for his security, and he needed them. But, Achashueros felt out of place in their company. Their fine manners irritated him because he was a plebeian. Then he invited his “crowd,” the citizens, the uncouth of Shushan Habirah. How do we know that he enjoyed the common? Because the megilah tells us that on the seventh day “the heart of the king was merry from wine.” During the 180 days before the cultured, he was not merry.

It would have been nicer for Queen Vashti to appear before the aristocracy, but instead, when did he summon her? Before the ordinary people! What does it mean that he told her to “appear before the people?” It means that in his intoxication he wanted to “shame and to humiliate her.” Vashti came from royalty-was the daughter of Balshazar, the granddaughter of Nebuchadnezer. He wanted to degrade her before the common people. Why did she refuse? She knew that he wanted to degrade her because otherwise, he would have come personally instead of sending servants as if she were a slave. It was as if sending a guard to degrade her. She returned a message, “My father drank wine in front of thousands and never got drunk. You got drunk on a little wine! You are a vulgar usurper! It was an exchange of derogatory messages, each wishing to destroy the other. Full Version Here.

44 years later, how would he look at our communities? What does the community value? Do they even have a concept of ordinary people (hamon am) anymore? Would he like the all-American values of Centrist orthodoxy?

Copyright © 2010 Alan Brill • All Rights Reserved

Does the Church ‘Get’ the Holocaust? A Response to Kevin Madigan

I agreed to give a Jewish response to the following paper by the Harvard historian Professor Kevin Madigan at a recent conference. The papers have just been published. Madigan spoke as a historian and I spoke about memory. For those interested in the topic, the papers provide a full bibliography in the footnotes.
Kevin Madigan, Has the Papacy ‘Owned’ Vatican Guilt for the Church’s Role in the Holocaust?
Alan Brill, Does the Church ‘Get’ the Holocaust? A Response to Kevin Madigan

Here are my conclusions. If you want more information then see the original papers or if you want to enter the discussion, then please read the original papers first.

A few concluding observations
(1) There is a sincere attempt by the Vatican for reconciliation, and reconciliation is indeed the goal.

(2) There is also a sincere attempt by the Vatican for moral reckoning of antisemitism; however, they also have other forefront concerns, including the pastoral, liturgical, and doctrinal life of the Church.

(3) I completely agree with Professor Madigan’s conclusions to the question about historic reckoning. Nevertheless, issues should not be conceptualized only in the present.

(4) However, the understanding of Jewish Holocaust memory is intermittent. Most of the time the Holocaust is understood as a Jewish tragedy, though Vatican speeches may not reveal this understanding. When going to a Holocaust memorial to show respect to the Jewish people while
accompanied by a group of Jews, Church representatives need to understand that the Holocaust is not the “30 million people killed by the fascists” nor is it a “universal problem of inhumanity and evil in the world.” For Jews, it is a war against six million Jews as Jews, with the Jews singled out for extermination. At a minimum this is demanded by diplomacy and propriety; at best it requires empathy for Jewish memory. There is a noticeable lack of a personal empathy and empathetic regret.

(5) Is there an understanding by the Church of the Jewish sense of the Tremendum? Do they “get” the Jewish silence, bereft of theological answers? Do they “get” the rupturing of Jewish faith, leaving a sense of Jewish brokenness? The answer is no. Few Jews evoke the eternal
covenants as a comfort
(6) Finally, current Church statements made in light of the Holocaust, are not addressing the past 2000 years of Christian anti-Judaism. Fr. Edward Flannery’s observation in the Introduction to his book The Anguish of the Jews” still holds true: Christians have torn from their history
books the pages that Jews have memorized.

From one of the sections that I was particularly interested in:
Pope Benedict conceptualizes the Holocaust using the critical theory of the Frankfort School, especially that of Theodore Adorno and Jürgen Habermas… He speaks to the Historikerstreit, occuring in the 1980s which debated the role of the Holocaust in history. He sides with Adorno and Habermas against Nolte and Fest. But this discussion does not in any way respond to Jewish memory.
Neither does his discussion of the Holocaust in Spe Salvi (In Hope We Are Saved) which asserts that the horrible injustices of history should not have the final word. There must finally be true justice. But that, in the words the Pope quotes from Adorno, would require a world “where not only present suffering would be wiped out, but also that which is irrevocably past would be undone.” This would mean the resurrection of the dead (no. 42). God now reveals his true face in the figure of the sufferer who shares man’s God-forsaken condition by taking it upon himself. This innocent sufferer has attained the certitude of hope: there is a God, and God can create justice in a way that we cannot conceive, yet we can begin to grasp it through faith. Yes, there is a resurrection of the flesh. (42-43)

In Benedict’s theological works on the Christian meaning of modernity, especially as typified by the Holocaust, his goal is to provide salvific hope before a rampant loss of values. Jewish memory of the Holocaust is not addressed. When Pope Benedict considers the theological
issues of the Holocaust he thinks of Adorno’s question and the pastoral answer of crucifixion and resurrection. He does not think of recent Jewish Holocaust theologians. In this, Pope Benedict is similar to many Orthodox Jewish theologians, who are not interested in historicity or Holocaust theology, and are more concerned with either the eternal values of the halakhah or the pastoral need to spread Judaism. They hear a commanding voice from Sinai and Zion and not from Auschwitz. Thus, it would be unfair to ask Benedict to adopt specific positions in Holocaust theology or to place the Jewish-Christian relationship at the center of his theology. He is a pastoral leader for Catholics, and he has a vision for their doctrinal, liturgical, and institutional needs. It is fair, however, to expect him to address the specific Jewish memory of the Holocaust when he is speaking to a Jewish audience at a Jewish sponsored event, such as at Yad Vashem.

If you have never read the Studies in Jewish Christian relations before, especially since it does not show up in google search, here is the first issue from 4 years ago, which is a good place to start.

Book Comes Out Tomorrow

My book Judaism and Other Religions is to be officially released tomorrow March 2nd by Palgrave-Macmillan. But it is already available in the warehouse and available for purchase. The Amazon pre-publication price is only guaranteed until around 5PM tomorrow. Their computer may raise the price by 10%-15% later this week. So if you are buying from Amazon, then today (or tomorrow) is the day to do it.
On the other hand, you can pick up a copy directly from me for 10% off the current Amazon price. (Do not ask me to ship it to you.)
The official university book signing is Sunday March 21st. If you need review or desk copies, then contact Palgrave-Macmillan with your credentials.

Click here to buy it at Amazon