Tag Archives: revelation

Rav Kook on religion and other religions- from the new book

Time to actually start reading the new work of Rav Kook.- for details on the new work, see here. This is a first draft and it will go through many revisions to translation and explanation in the upcoming days. Help me think through the implications of chapter eight.

Rabbi Kook in his recently published work LeNevuchei HaZeman seeks to answers the philosophic question of his era, specifically the problems created by his reading of the Hebrew summaries of the thought of Spinoza, Schopenhauer, and Hegel. His Hebrew is forced to find words to express the ideas of German idealism and many of his transliterations and linguistic coinages are no longer used.

In dealing with the thought of the Hegel, Kook is forced to deal with the status of other religions. For Hegel, Christianity is the world historical religion and other religions like Roman religion or Judaism have already passed their time to contribute to the civilization of the world. Hegel also assumes that Christianity is best for mediating of the finite and the infinite, the past and the future, and the ethical in society. Rav Kook solves the problem for his reader in the simple apologetic manner by stating that Judaism is the world historic religion and is best for mediating the logic of the unfolding of the Divine idea.

Rabbi Kook, however, is most innovative in creating a positive role for the other monotheistic faiths. He states in unequivocal terms that God cares about the people of the world and Christianity and Islam are needed to bring perfection to the world. Centuries before Maimonides had offered an inclusive model in which God in His inscrutable designs which we cannot understand used the other religions to bring knowledge of God to the world. Here the plan is not inscrutable but makes perfect sense since every nation needs its God as part of God’s concern for humanity.

In chapter eight of the new book, we have a desire to offer an understanding (verstehen) of the phenomena of religion. The value of religion is to be judged based on the rise of consciousness, which Rav Kook identifies with prophecy. He deems prophecy the peak of the sciences and the path to human perfection. He also accepts Hegel’s glorification of death as the transcending of the self, in Rav Kook’s language as part of attaining the world-to-come. “Eternal life also is dependent on the perfection of man in the powers of body and mind.” The goal of society is to transcend Enlightenment brotherhood and reach a restoration of the unity of infinite and finite, man and animal as portrayed in the Biblical story of the garden of Eden.

It is fit to elucidate an understanding of religion in general.

Which religion is identified as Divine, in which there is a complete obligation to all those who follow it as part of the nation(s) whose ancestors accepted that religion to practice and keep it? And which [religion] is it possible to pronounce upon it an value of error to the point where it is impossible to obligate anyone of pure knowledge to maintain it .

The principle of prophecy is the most complete science in its clarification and necessity that is possible in the necessity of history.
As long as humanity still needs guidance, as long as the world is not filled with knowledge until every individual finds complete clarification the entirety of consciousness from his own self-understanding. Then he is elevated from the universal faith to clarified unified knowledge…. As long as death still rules a person to embitter his life and to steal his tranquility….However, an era will surely come of the perfection of man in which it wont be sufficient that every person will recognize all humanity all brothers and friend. But will also recognize the sublime consciousness of which the Torah describes at the start of the creation of man. (29)

The matter is understood that the obligation of religion is from a special reception and warrant from prophecy, which passed from Moses. Today, we are no longer able to attain this form of consciousness except by means of an inner desire and self-consciousness in love. Even then, [the prophecy or religion] is uncertain if consciousness can find a place for mizvot to use them for a sublime purpose or not.

Rav Kook’s use of prophecy as a translation of self-consciousness does indeed allow one to create a Hegelian Judaism. Most Jewish Hegelians were into the History and here we have an interest in the Phenomenology. Kook’s understanding of consciousness as prophecy would has the potential to mediate mediate and modern thought. If followed it would have been similar to the Islamic scholars Corbin or Nasr who do not relinquish prophecy. Rav Kook holds that in the world to come after the resurrection of dead-then everyone will be a prophet. Yet he questions the role of Mizvot at that time. At this point, his position seems closer the position which he rejects in his letter to Alexandrov. The weak point in his theory is that rather than giving us a phenomenology of prophecy, he says that we lost most of the details and criteria. It is kinda hard claiming prophecy as the epitome of the sciences if one does not give the details.

To return to his original question, he answers that any religion that helps in the evolution of humanity is needed and one should respect them. Since he already acknowledged that they can have prophecy, he extends his thought and states that other religions can even have sensory wonders and signs based on Divine influence in order to lead humanity forward.

Consider, the religion which gives the possibility to arrange the sublime evolution of mankind to be absolute truth. But with every religion that serves idolatry – there is no certain hope to arrive at this level. Behold only the knowledge of unity of God can perfect humanity to congregate in a single spiritual center to create a representational central place, a place of peace and love. But in the mistake of idolatry this hope of perfection is lost. [This hope is] only in the Torah of Israel and the Torah that draws from it. 29-30

Consider, that the religions that draw from their own, it is not fit to looking upon them in an ungenerous manner. It is possible to be that from their foundations a divine influx is given in order that they should be engaged in incorporating a significant part of humanity in what is fitting to them. From this perspective of purpose it is possible that certain matters of sensory wonders if needed to strengthen them since the matter concerns all of humanity because God’s hand is outstretched from the beginning of creation until its end. However, the side of error mixed into them is nothing except what is impossible to be grounded in them as their principle nature of their guidance to the final perfection to find a single spirituality in the world.

The matter is understood that except for Israel there is no nation in the world that has absolute merit over another from the perspective of spiritual acquisitions of ethics and Divine religion.
The opinions rooted in the books of Christians and Muslims that state that the value of Israel is transcended, forefend, needs to be nullified in order for humanity to arrive at its rationale and eternal purpose.
But the status of the inner ethic there is in every religion to enlighten and to benefit it is fitting to respect… they are engaged in the worship of God according to their arrangement.

He grants Christians and Muslims an independent status. Whereas Franz Rosenzweig starting from the same Hegelian premises gave the task of perfection of the world and space to Christians and left Jews in the eternal unity, Rav Kook sees everyone working toward the perfection of humanity. Until the eschaton, the other religions play a role in the divine plan for the world. And in his reading of the Jewish sources defective forms of Biblical monotheism or prophecy are still valuable as base for those religions. Their understanding of the principles of religion are sufficient for them even if we differ in the details. The Trinity is not a false god but the God of Israel “Even if they mix in imagination” or “weaker understanding.’

Every nation has its own religion, and weakening a nations religion weakens the state. We should support those that are organized based on their national history and national concepts. Conversion weakens a nation but shows the inner striving of people to find the best inner moral qualities. Other religions are only good for those born into them since because the concepts are rotted in the soul, But they are not for Jews whose souls contain pure ideas of God.

In chapter thirty, he returns to some of these them and states that religions are not to be judged on the practical details, rather on their power for the future, their ability to aid in the evolution of mankind.

In chapter fifty two, he states that our concept of tolerance is based on the need for everything playing a part in perfection. Therefore, a gentile that learns Torah, in the sense of the idea of God, is like a high priest. Rav Kook connects this idea to prophecy and revelation and says that Torah from Heaven is the pillar of religious freedom and freedom of the spirit because true faith transcends any one finite category. Finally, he gives us a few cryptic lines that he thinks disproves the radicals among the Biblical critics because it is a historic fact that the knowledge of God destroyed the ancient idolatry. And this activity of negating idolatry and bringing knowledge of God was “mit-ha-beret im sefer Torah.”

What is he refuting, considering the Bible as primitive? What does “mit-ha-beret im sefer Torah.” mean?
Folks, help me unpack the meaning and value of these new writings

Copyright © 2010 Alan Brill • All Rights Reserved

Marilynne Robinson and the Emergence of Ethical Man post 3 of 3

Marilynne Robinson claims in Absence of Mind that we overcome the materialist worldview of T.H. Huxley (exemplifying the new atheists) by appreciating the deeper sense within us. I started thinking that I have heard this before Yes indeed, it is the basic position of Rabbi Soloveitchik in the Emergence of Ethical Man. We need to overcome the materialism and selfishness of Huxley’s worldview by accepting the Divine command and emerge as moral beings.

Robinson is at the forefront of changing the popular image of Calvinism Calvinist defender Jonathan Edwards’s description of man as a “loathsome insect” held over the fire of Hell by God, such a task seems ripe and even overdue. In all of her works Robinson moves the emphasis to Calvin’s idea of a God given religious consciousness. We can sense where our life has gone astray and needs the word of God.

Such warring against historical miscomprehension, however, while effectively waged by Robinson, is not the main task of her essay. Instead, she seeks to describe the religious and spiritual experience of perception in Calvin’s theology, the experience by which seeing the world leads to loving it, and witnessing mankind brings about acknowledgment of man’s infinite beauty and potential. For Robinson, “wickedness is not the only inhabitant of man’s soul. There also reside stores and stores of grace, beauty, and holiness, stores that shine forth when we truly and lovingly look at our fellow man. Created in the image of God, mankind is filled with his divine presence; it is only in comparison with this potential for sanctity and goodness that Calvin so painfully denounces man’s wickedness.” – for more on her Calvinism-see here.

According to Robinson, we have to overcome a material bestial life and learn to appreciate our life stories filled with a wide ethical range of sin and beauty. In her novels, from what I have been told, we find ourselves confronted by God’s vision of human life.

Rabbi Soloveitchik starts with the same need to overcome the scientific materialism and amoral selfishness of Huxley, he also starts with the same Protestant pessimism about human nature in its natural state. So, his solution is the need to accept the divine command of being in the image of God and accept moral responsibility for our actions. Unlike Robinson for whom this is a natural faculty, Soloveitchik treats it as “a redemptive sacrificial act” or as a need to be “confronted by God’s revelation.” We need revelation of Genesis to give meaning to our lives. We rise from our nasty brutish existence to a life of morality and intellectual integrity. He presents this rise from materialism to ethical existence in several works including The Emergence of Ethical Man, Confrontation, Kol Dodi Dofek (in shortened form), and in Ubekashtem MeSham. We gain meaning to our suffering and cognitive gestures through revelation and then as Jews we have a double confrontation in that we also have a second confrontation with God in which we are transformed into the Jewish community of Torah.

Soloveitchik lacks a natural faculty but requires a revelation; this form of revelation is called a dialectic theory. All revelation is about how God communicates with humanity. A dialectic theory concerns itself with how we are redeemed from natural existence; it is not about receiving a corpus of doctrine. Nothing can be known in a dialectic approach without revelation so revelation is about one’s basic anthropology. (for more info google Karl Barth and revelation)

As a side point, much of the blog world not trained in theology is not used to distinguishing between revelation and Torah from Sinai. The former is where the divine breaks into the human condition and the latter is the Jewish concept of what occurred at Sinai. Rabbi Soloveitchik was always interested in the former – how we go from materialism to ethical and then to halakhic. He clearly writes that he was not interested in apologetics about the latter. The former was the more serious question.

Marilynne Robinson reminds us why revelation is the more important question. How do we understand human existence that helps us transcend skepticism, materialism, and man’s brutish nature? She answers with a God given sense of the sublime and Rabbi Soloveithcik answers with a double confrontation of man before the Divine.

As a useful contrast, David Novak in Azure set up the problem the same way but offers a different answer. Novak offer a single confrontation. Like Soloveitchik, we no longer use natural theology to know God as a first cause or His involvement in the natural order. We only know God as the commander who creates our moral standards. Novak answers the skeptics and materialists by saying, of course as modern we cannot compete with you and do natural theology that gives values to the natural order. Instead, we have to acknowledge the commander and know that he gives us a natural law to guide us. Whereas Soloveitchik has a double confrontation – our universal meaning in life and then our obedience in halakhah. Novak has a single confrontation and our universal moral sense of natural law should be used to generate a natural law halakhah.

We could say that statements about God are not scientific hypotheses at all, since we are not speaking of God as a cause operating within the natural order, which is the sole order about which natural science can speak with any cogency. And, even when we do speak of God as the creator of the universe and all it contains, we are not speaking of a God whose existence has been inferred from human experience of orderly nature. Instead, we are speaking of a God who commands our community, through his historical revelation to our community, to acknowledge his creation of that natural order in which our historical relationship with him takes place.

A neo-Hasid sees God glory in all things, and does not worry about the science. None of the three thinkers, however, allows nature to prove anything because then the materialists and skeptics win. Today, only fundamentalists conflate religion and science. These are not the only three approaches but Marilynne Robinson has given us a angle to bring together several dialectic thinkers.

Copyright © 2010 Alan Brill • All Rights Reserved

Arthur Green–Radical Judaism #4 of 5

Chapter 3 of Radical Torah is on Torah and revelation. Torah points to the oneness of all reality and mitzvah is our sense of what creates holiness in our lives.
Green’s radical views on Torah go back to some of his first public statement.

In the 1960’s, the pulpit Rabbi David Hartman raised money to host annual SEGAL retreats in Quebec. The invitation list included depending on the year Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Elie Wiesel, Emil Fackenheim, and Rabbis Wurzburger, Yitz Greenberg, Berkovits , Jacob Petuchowski, and Seymour Segal. The responses to each other’s positions formed the backbone of 1960’s Jewish theology. (Forty years later, a cross denominational retreat like this might once again force theologians to articulate their differing and mutually exclusive positions ).

In 1969, a young Arthur Green spoke to these assembled elders as a representative of youth culture. And the June 23 1969 issue of the NYT gave a lion’s share of its write up of the retreat to Green, who set out a radical position that his generation was looking for the sacred but he does not know if the traditional answer of eating beef is more holy than eating pig. Maybe today God’s voice is for us to eat natural foods or not to use cellophane or not to use migrant worker grapes.

A decade later in the Second Jewish Catalog , Green offered a subjective guide to religious practice, and scandalized the establishment for a Conservative rabbi to accept free love

In his first version of Green theology in the book, Seek My Face, the section on revelation was weaken than the section on creation.
In the second version of the book, E-hyeh, Green calls himself heterodox to distinguish himself from any sense of institutional obligation of practice. This third version of Green’s thought is more mystical and pantheistic.

The message of the Torah, read with mystic eyes, is that God alone exists as taught by the mystics in all religions This mystic oneness needs reinforcement through the world of the symbolic sefirot. Hasidic readings of the text are clearly the most useful in this scheme.
We cannot accept the world of the kabbalists as real science anymore but modern science does not have all the answers. We don’t know everything about reality but we cant take Kabbalah literally.The greatest insight of kabbalh today is psychological teaching about divine oneness. Torah is a vehicle for mystical consciousness.

From an Orthodox perspective, it would be unfair to judge a proclaimed heterodox position on Torah, revelation, and law. But what is lacking here from any perspective is the role of kabbalah as meaning creating in a post-foundational sense (see my last post). Green moves between ascribing an intellectualist approach to medieval kabbalah and concludes that it is fluid and symbolic. However, there is no need to situate kabbalah in the science-religion debate in post-secular age. I am not comfortable when he says that science has gaps in its explanatory power so he turns to kabbalah. Why are science and kabbalah even in the same discussion from a liberal perspective? If science is weak in immunology, cosmology, or oncology then the solution will come from further laboratory work, not by turning to the kabbalah to show that we can accept mystery in life. And the kabbalah is not symbolic because we have physics but because it has nothing to do with science.

[If one want to deal with the kabbalistic science of the Gra, R. Moshe Shapiro, and the Kabbalah Centre that would be a completely different discussion and focused on Orthodox thought.]

His view of revelation is as mystic teaching in our hearts. He explains this using Hasidic texts- that they only heard the aleph of creation on Sinai, meaning the mystic oneness of reality.

Green acknowledges that he is far from any traditional view and discusses that he has a God of disbelief, silent in our lives, and at best a projection for our needs. But he says that he really does accept revelation, a revelation of a God who pulsates as a wholeness of being in creation – inward in all things, an energy for evolution.This silent existence of God is everywhere So mitzvah are from this silent inwardness of creation and self. A panentheistic commander of mizvot. Green admits that this needs “unpacking,” which is his term. Mizvot are not a custom or folkway but to produce holiness and opportunity for encounter. Mizvot are a set of symbols to address the soul. Israel’s myth of sacred beginning.

Green considers Sinai as a great growth in religious consciousness and human awareness for freed slaves and the immediate commandment of not to have idolatry makes sense in their not wanting anything that constricts our minds.
But there is No God who makes a covenant with Israel. Only the One who calls from the heart to make this people his own. Green acknowledges that this is too personified and particualistic since God is revealed in all hearts, of all people – all revelation is based on culture. Israel said yes in the Sinai of the heart and the mind- Jews respond to an inner call. Jews are a channel for divine presence and blessing. No matter how secular they seem, Jews are priests at the alter of God.

Green asks: But does this mean that Sinai was merely human ? His answer : No, God is in the human heart The covenant is mutual, God is bound to it and we are promised by God that He will love us, the more you give the more you get. He has faith in reward.

I do not recognize traditional concepts of Torah, mizvot, and Sinai in Green’s presentation But then again he is proudly heterodox and speaks to those who are spiritual not religious. For crucial questions of canon, authority, and interpretation, Halbertal- remains the starting point. And for the meaning of Kabblah, sod, religious experience and Biblical exegesis, Fishbane is the place to start. But Green offers openness to the spirit and the therapeutic deism that guides contemporary lives.

Yet, before I let this chapter go, and post this review -I feel not satisfied. The Hasidism is not historical hasidism, the response to Biblical criticism seems fluffy, and the definition of mysticism is self-defined as his own unity of being unable to hold up in a study of mysticism. I might be faulted for wanting things more academic. Is this chapter just that he likes haimish language of Torah and mizvot and his pantheistic oneness of being is a justification for haimishness? I dont know! Martin Buber was a serious heterodox engagement with Torah, rigorous in history and philosophy. I have a gut feeling that this chapter reads like the homiletic logic so common in Orthodoxy.

I do know that many people are performing searches for Art Green’s new book, few for Fishbane, and even fewer for Novak. So it must be speaking to people?

Do I have any heterodox readers to evaluate this?

Continue to part 5 here,

Brevard Childs

Apropos to the Kugel discussion- Here are some quotes from Brevard Childs who was at Yale from the 1960’s until the 1990’s. Childs treats the Bible as a Christian work through the eyes of the Church even as he uses Biblical criticism. His approach is called “canonical criticism” is “an examination of the final form of the text as a totality, as well as the process leading to it.” “Whereas previous criticism asked questions about the origins, structure and history of the text, canonical criticism addresses questions of meaning, both for the community (and communities – subsequent communities are regarded as being as important as the original community for which it was produced) which used it, and in the context of the wider canon of which it forms a part.”
Childs was criticized on both sides – by Biblical scholars who wanted the text to remain in its bronze age meaning or documentary meaning and by fundamentalists who rejected any criticism. I am not advocating Childs’ approach, I repeat I am not advocating Childs’ theories. I am posting this as a sense of what most non-Jewish Bible professors that I know had to read in graduate school and it served as a basis for any further thinking they did on the topic. It also serves as a basis for many of the readings in an undergraduate Bible course. Many introductory courses try to show continuity with the tradition.

Childs’ approach influenced Levenson, Fishbane, and other Jewish scholars who read the Bible with the Second temple and Rabbinic commentary, who look for intertextuality within the Bible itself, and treat the Bible as a Jewish work. The Jewish authors developed their own approaches but Childs is one of the many building blocks. Maybe I might post on some of the other building blocks. And as Benjamin Sommers pointed out – for many people Kugel’s book The Bible As It Was – his book on Midrash was taken as an extension of Brevard Childs.

Brevard S. Childs is author of Biblical Theology in Crisis, and The Book of Exodus and Isaiah
CHILDS: I have always objected to the term “canon(ical) criticism” as a suitable description of my approach. I do not envision my approach as involving a new critical methodology analogous to literary, form, or redactional criticism. Rather, the crucial issue turns on one’s initial evaluation of the nature of the biblical text being studied. By defining one’s task as an understanding of the Bible as the sacred Scriptures of the church, one establishes from the outset the context and point-of-standing of the reader within the received tradition of a community of faith and practice. Likewise, Scripture is also confessed to be the vehicle of God’s self-disclosure which continues to confront the church and the world in a living fashion. In sum, its content is not merely a literary deposit moored in the past, but a living and active text addressing each new generation of believer, both Jew and Christian.

Childs accepts a unified approach without separate documents and looks for intertextuality. He sees the text as having a revelatory message from God. Notice his description of the human and divine elements and his definition of revelation. Later parts of the Bible were already hearing fresh insights into God’s prior words. It is quite Christian but it was still influential on Jews. Notice the subtlety of his view of revelation. On needs to hear a powerful theological message from the Bible.

Of course, the Bible is also a human work written as a testimony to God’s coercion of a historical people, and extended and developed through generations of Israel’s wrestling with its God. The goals of interpretation can be defined in countless different ways, but for those confessing its role as sacred Scripture the goal is to penetrate deeply into its content, to be illuminated theologically by its Word, and to be shaped and transformed by its gracious disclosure which witness is continually made alive by its divine communicator.
The divine and human dimensions of Scripture can never be separated as if there were a kernel and a husk, but the heart of the Bible lies in the mystery of how a fully time-conditioned writing, written by fragile human authors, can continually become the means of hearing the very Word of God, fresh and powerful, to recipients open to faithful response.
First, I remain deeply concerned with the unity of the book which, I agree, cannot be formulated in terms of a single authorship.
Secondly, one of the most important recent insights has been the recognition of the role of intertextuality. The growth of the larger composition has often been shaped by the use of a conscious resonance with a previous core of oral and written texts. The great theological significance is that intertextuality reveals how the editors conceived of their task as forming a chorus of different voices and fresh interpretations, but all addressing in different ways, and in different ages a part of the selfsame, truthful witness to God’s salvific purpose for his people.

Taken from Brevard Childs’ Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context.

If one asks what was God’s purpose, that is, his motivation in revealing himself, the Old Testament is silent. However, if one asks what was God’s purpose, that is, his goal toward which his self-disclosure pointed, then the Old Testament is eloquent in its response. God revealed himself that all may see and know who God is:

Any thoughts? What would you take from this? Why?

Fishbane – Sacred Attunment –part 4

Fishbane – chapter 4 continued from part 3 here —— and part I here, part 2 here.

Fishbane opens chapter 4 stating that reading the text is a spiritual practice in which “Each generation must produce the exegetical practices appropriate to its historical and intellectual situation.”

There are three levels of Torah, Torah kelulah, written Torah, oral Torah (This is a Neo-hasidic innovation to add a third.)

Torah kelulah is truly from heaven as a holy hieroglyph encoding patterns and forms of every form.
The written Torah is a specific shaping of the torah kelulah through the heart and mind of Moses and formulated in the style and idiom of the times.The written torah is a scriptural record of the “spiritual history of the covenant in its initial unfolding, as formulated by the like of Moses and those who spoke in his voice (and spirit) in the early history of ancient Israel.” “Others spoke in a similar voice and with similar concern, and challenged and guided the people to obey the teaching of the covenant in all their ways” such as Isaiah and Jerimiah. (Kingship and covenant as vasselhood are not used).
.The Oral torah capturs the spiritual vitalities inherent within the written Torah.It makes the Torah . personified and particularized. There is a vibrant paradox of Jewish covenant theology, in which the Torah is continuously rereading its formulations through the prism of its own forms of rationality and interpretive tradition.

“The strict halakhist will tend to see the external world largely through the prism of the Oral Torah….whereas the strictly natural self will tend only to see the world with a natural eye…But we should resist this dichotomy”

Jews are descendents of both Adam and Moses- we are both a natural and a cultural being
Torah kelulah is our hearts, written torah in our minds, oral law on our mouths.
The Torah kelulah is not given to our natural self but only to the Jew in covenant..

On faith—–“Standing before scripture in all its modes is emunah” faithfulness to the wondrous torah
We ascend to God and it unfolds in torah.
Emunah as mahshvah devekah and also a counterthrust of aught- noght fraught with the cascading and fragmenting of our world.

We need a prepared heart for the Torah. As kohelet tells us: the natural self is vanity
Covenantal self stands in awe before the divine and is faithful to the world at hand – it lives in wholehearted

This discussion of emunah, temimut, lev tahor sounds a lot like Maharal via hasidut.

The Torah was given in the desert according to Midrash. This means the realm of the evil side according to the Zohar. Fishbane explains this as the need to confront the terrors of life– the “howl of evil.”

We should pay attention to the terms in and out, near- far, with – before with our readings . They make us aware of our boundaries.

Finally, his concept of obligation, hiyyuv. Fishbane states that we are always under a hiyyuv- It is herut al ha-luhot (avot 6:2) but it gets explained by means of Heidegger –Gademer and our horizens.
He also explain obligation through Cordovero’s Tomar Devorah. We are always connected to Divine values and responsibility. (I know Fishbane taught Tomar Devorah over a year ago, if anyone wants to send me notes it would be appreciated. It would be like reading Heidegger on the history of thought.)

In the course of the above discussion, there is some nice Zohar analysis showing how the Zohar used midrashic tropes of Genesis Rabbah and how names are changes between the two texts. Rebbi (alternate R. Ami ) gets told over in the name of R. Abba

The book ends with a reminder of our hermeneutic finitude – and that forgetting this is hubris. We are finite, mortal, in the flesh and that “death is the final censura”

I found the book dealing with many of the same issues as the poet-singer Leonard Cohen
Natural Life peaks at love, birth, transformed moments, the natural censura of death, and a natural life pointing beyond- to something deeper. Cohen’s songs turn from the natural
to Zen, to a revelatory Biblical God, to the existential abyss.
Fishbane starts with the natural and does not give us the heightened speech of the poet rather he directs us to find the heightened words and meaning of Sinai as understood through the Bible, Midrash, Biblical exegesis, Kabbalah, and Hasidut
For Leonard Cohen, one needs to practice Zen meditation to awaken to the moment, and still keep Shabbat to please the Biblical God. For Fishbane, Sinai create a need for continuous God consciousness and connection to the textuality of divine values. We need Sacred Attunment.

Michael Fishbane – Sacred attunements – part III

Sacred Attunements chapters 2 and 3 continued from part I here and part II here.

Chapter II – “Jewish theology begins at Sinai, but God was before this event”

Sinai is commitment, creation of scripture, prophecy. Divine presence and efectivity is the horizon. It takes courage to live in the light of the truth of the covenant.We want to enter the language of revelation.

(This is a great existential definition sharply removing Sinai from the symbolic and human, but not going as far into the experiential-mystical as Rav Kook. One of the times Fishbane spoke at the local minyan, he discussed Rav Kook and it seemed like he was using the or penimi without the or makif. he shows nice use of Ricouer)

“The decisive turn to Sinai is made by the solitary spirit..” First, we move out of habit into commitment, then attentiveness to encounter. We return to community to formulate a life of justice and righteousness. Our model Moses could endure censural vastness and then return to work in the community unlike Elijah and Job who were lost in silent submission and did not formulate a covenant with God.

Three cords of Torah, Sinai is an ongoing spirit of Jewish living producing the Oral Torah and behind all the Torah is a broader Torah kelulah, a openness to Being. Behind the Torah was Sinai is an even deeper Torah kelulah which pulsates through reality, through Being. (Nice ability to avoid Heschel’s dichotomy of Torah from Sinai and Torah from Heaven).

Texts unfold into life by means of interpretation

Peshat is subjugation of self to text. But there is no one peshat. It is ever constructed in the acts of reading and speaking. Peshat is attentiveness to details of the text.

Derush – contemporary ongoing meanings, relationship words to each other, conjoined words, oral words- this is the oral Torah. Drush gathers textual cations into a vortex of instruction.  It helps us become human and build character. Drush is a serious theological task. Mythic conceptions are not childlike crudities but creative imagination striving to grasp what is sensed.

Remez is finding the supersensual ideas of philosophy in the text. In great hands, like those of Maimonides he returns to the peshat and finds the openings to the higher truths in the text. Remez offer stairwells, or Jacob’s Ladder to high truths.

Sod – revealing and concealing of aspects of divinity. It seeks alignment with the language and energies of discussions of divine structures. We move beyond the text to a meta-communicative level. The eye for symbols, the ear for sounds, and the mouth for the recitation and mindful meditative life-rhythm.

Chapter III “Living within the covenant, we are challenged to actualize the principles of Sinai at every moment, through the bonds we forge with persons and things in the course of life.”

Halakhah is the gesture of the generations – ongoing practices cultivated and inculcated for the various spheres of life.

Fishbane calls God –“the life of all life” from a neoplatonic piyyut of Saadyah. This is his preferred term for God.

The second half of the chapter is on prayer and has lots of insights. Many of the paragraphs are poetic insights strung together. I need to teach it once in the context of other exhortations to prayer (Hirsch, Heschel, Rav Kook, Rebbe Reshab) in order to grasp the finer points.

“The phenomena of prayer responds to the vastness of sounds and sights which surround us in the natural world.”

(Most studies of Jewish prayer have parroted the work of Fredrich Heiler who has two types of prayer- petitionary and mystical. Moshe Greenberg on Biblical Prayer, Heinneman on Rabbinic prayer, Scholem on Kabbalistic prayer, Soloveitchik on Halakhic prayer have all used Heiler’s typology. But most Jewish prayer is actually Adoration, in which we praise to the King. Our prayer gestures are based on adoration to the King, and the Psalms we use are not petition but adoration.) Evelyn Underhill has a great book on Adoration produced almost the same year as Heiler.

Fishbane moves into the world of adoration using Gademer, Rilke, and the Psalms.

He presents four levels, a PARDES of prayer

Peshat- yes it is submission to the text—but also the silence before response, the articulation of human needs,, and a realization of the gaps and gifts of the world.

Derush-meaning in the present.Remez  – higher wisdom and abstractions- he asks: what would they say?

Sod- reaching the unfathomable, toward the Transcendent, toward religious censura

He ends the chapter with a homily explaining gemilut hasadim as radical kindness.

(Great, contemporary Jewry can use a lot more on kindness and gemilut Hasidim)  but then returning to Heidegger and Rosenzweig –we get “”Ultimately, the phenomena of hesed is the practice of death….successively divesting oneself.”

(If one sees oneself in a tight knit community then Miktav  MiEliyahu offers a world of mashbia and mekabel were everyone is always giving and receiving. But if one is an isolated individual then there it is death to give.)

Lord Jonathan Sacks on the Siddur

1] When I think of certain prayer books commentaries, I sometimes think of them with a few words. Hirsch – moral aspiration, Birnbaum – historical anti-Semitism Artscroll – Hashem centered,   Rebbe – attachment to God

For Sacks, the words are hope, faith, and dignity.

Full disclosure – I received a copy from the publisher after my last post on the idea of witness in his thought. In short, my reaction is that his books are generally well crafted and delivered publicly, but here we have short comments not fully explained or justified.

2]  Collective Prayer

His message throughout the siddur is collective faith, we join with others. Prayer concerns the past and future of the community, the people Israel. The prayer is adoration and praise for God – our highest aspirations for the Jewish people. He favors Yehudah Halevi– prayer shows a God of history and human events. We learn from prayer the need to maintain faith, hope, dignity, and pride.

What is prayer? Prayer changes us – it is self-fulfillment He opens the book with a definition that prayer is conversation with God and never actually uses that definition in the book. From his commentary, prayer is listening and shaping oneself from the liturgy. Symbols need meditations therefore many do the yehi ratzon (cf. Hirsch).

His commentary is not very spiritual, emotional, or experiential, despite his use of these words. For example, he states the repetition of the amidah is the peak of religious experience because it contains the kedushah which was based on prophetic and mystic visions. Liturgy is not experience or experiential. Nor will one find much solace or human struggle in the prayer book.

Like the commentaries on Book of Common Prayer – he offers Biblical teachings applied in everyday life. The book is not very Rabbinic.

The commentary on the weekday shaharit is on the history of the liturgy and on the Shabbat shaharit is more theological.

3] Justice

His vision is that prayer will teach us personal and social responsibilitie. There is a cosmic moral standard of justice  God’s eternal values for the affairs of humankind-are justice to the oppressed, food to the hungry, freedom to captives, and hope to those at the margins of society.” Korban (sacrifice) is the pledging of ourselves to do his will. Peace the ultimate hope of monotheism. [Wow – this is nice universalism and good ethical monotheism- will it mold Orthodoxy?]

He writes: We believe that “The world is the product of single will , not the blind clash of conflicting elements”.[what of divine mandated clashes and exclusivism?]

He writes “Havdalah means making distinctions”, “to make order out of chaos, God wants us to be creative.” That is great homiletic but will it encourage the production of what the wider world calls creativity?

4] Revelation

Sacks writes that in contrast to the universal demands on Jews, Revelation is particular – it is our covenant of love with God – a relationship.Torah is our written constitution, collective memory, and record of covenant- not just sacred literature The message, however, of revelation is the universal justice, compassion, inalienable rights for the downtrodden.[This is the point were I find this commentary as selected quotes from his books on global ethics. Nothing is substantiated or justified here but they are justified in the books.In addition, the books come from speeches delivered in public to answer a need. These comments have no criteria for their inclusion.]

5] Christian locutions

a) Sacks writes that Resurrection is hope “ Jews kept hope alive, hope kept the Jewish people alive.”We have a divine promise and hope defeats tragedy

This is one of my pet peeve – tikvah and spes are not the same even if both translated as hope.

The former word tikvah is restoration –

[There is a debate of Radak and Ramban is if has the same meaning as kav – to make a line.]

Nahmanides says that just as a blueprint has lines drawn so too our tikvah for the national redemption is already drawn. Christian meaning of spes is of unseen things, the future, as part of the supernatural virtues of faith hope, and charity. For Christians hope is a virtue, for Jews, God (or Torah) has kept up Jewish hope for the redemption. One hopes in God, one does not hope as a virtue.

Sacks uses the word in several places in the Christian sense  and even has locutions like faith, hope, and dignity – cf the Christian faith, hope and charity

The use of the word hope in this sense is also used often in Shakespeare

b) On page 146 – he writes we are your witnesses, the bearers of your name. (Jews don’t use it like this)- see my prior post

c) He uses the phrase “free air of hope” – page 152 coined by the Irish theologian George Tyrrell (1861 – 1909).

6] He views religious language as metaphor

In many places he has a variant of the following: God is unknowable and belong words – the goal is to get behind words.

7] As a book

Well…A large number of quotes are quite cryptic – he likes good phrases better than good comments. Many times one cannot make out what it means. The full ideas in other books are here reduced to bon mots. Comments sometimes say “it may be” “may reflect” – so the effect is a more of a homily than a commentary.

Sometimes he cites his sources – in one case there are three cited names in a single  passage—and then there are many pages without a single citation. Yet, in his other works he cites the author of the interpretation. It seems arbitrary.

8] Sources and comparisons

a) On the topic of liturgy and spontaneity, he surprisingly does not use the usually rabbinic passages on keva and kavvanah but discusses the topic through passages the in Bible. Source seems to be an unnamed book on the Bible or early Rabbinics.

b) He cites historical material from a much much earlier decade with any new insight- he does not references to Yakovson (Jacobson), Abrahams, Elbogen or other works that he relies on.

c) Conspicuous in its absence is the Lubavitcher Rebbe since Sacks relied heavily on the Rebbe in earlier works and adapted a volume of the Rebbe on parashah. But Sacks makes prayer thankfulness and adoration – and does not follow the Rebbe that prayer is connection to God.

d) Sacks noticeably quotes Rav Soloveitchik in his introduction, as if to claim continuity or authenticity, but does not follow his approach to prayer in the commentary.For Soloveitchik, Prayer is the personal existential cry in which there is personal redemption through the tefilot and more importantly, the Torah give us words that raise us above our natural inarticulate grunts of animals.

e) Isaiah Berlin on negative freedom and positive freedom – is unattributed here, and presented as Hazal. In addition, he states that Jews as eternal from Tolstoy (in an earlier work he credited the citation to Hertz quoting Tolstoy) This quote of Tolstoy is also in Isaiah Berlin.But quoting that Jews are eternal from Tolstoy—and not from Krokhmal, Kook, Rosenzweig or Reines—reduced it to a bon mot.

f) In Alenu, he explains “leTaken Olam bemalkhut Shadai” as Lurianic tikkun – is it from Elliott Dorff in My People’s Prayer Book?

9] The sections in the introduction on study, mysticism, and history was less than adequate and quite vague. The section on mysticism could be from more than half a century ago. It has a tone of “Mysticism devalues world”

He takes Kabbalat Shabbat from Elbogen recognized by Elbogen’s its mistaken reliance on Solomon Schechter.  And one is not inspired to confidence when he writes that the source of Ushpezin is a nebulous “Jewish mystical tradition.”

10]  Now what of his frequent citation of Franz Rosenzweig on creation, revelation, redemption? I don’t get this one.

This triad is originally from Hermann Cohen where the triad is a divine meaning to creation in the natural order, the revelation of ethics in the human mind, and human work to make the world a better place. (One finds this Cohen triad occasionally in Rav Soloveitchik;s homilies.)

For Rosenzweig, it is God presence as meaning that negates nihilism, revelation is human love for God, and the liturgical fulfillment of eternity. Prayer along with poetry and love are means to let us be existentially human. For Gershom Scholem, it is a creation of emanation and tzimtzum, revelation of creativity and antinomianism, and redemption through apocalyptic change.

But for Sacks, it is God in nature, God revealed in Torah and prayer, and our redemption in history and life. Where is this mild version from and why bother linking it to Rosenzweig? I have not checked yet, but Netiv Binah by Jacobson and Taamei Hamizvot by Heinneman both combine Hirsch and Rosenzweig into a milder form.

Yet the way Sacks frames the triad it can just as well be Albo’s God, Revelation, and Reward or Cordovero’s God, Torah and Israel. There is a triad in Rabbinic thought and liturgy and in the Rabbinic reading of the Bible which has been formulated different ways in different eras. (see Max Kadushin’s Organic Thinking on this thinking in triads) I am not sure why Sacks attributed his reading to Rosenzweig when Albo or Cordovero would have better served his needs.

But then I found on the web a position similar to Sacks—“Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe explained that mans’ relationship with G-d is three-dimensional; we know Him through His creation, His revelation at Sinai, and His promise of redemption.” Did both Sacks and Wolbe take it from Jacobson or Heinneman? Or another secondary source produced by German Jewry? Hmm..

In short, I like the Orthodox universalism, but will stick to reading his longer works,

Avi Sagi, Tradition vs. Traditionalism

More on Avi Sagi,  Tradition vs. Traditionalism

This book presents his take on his four favored thinkers: Leibowitz, Soloveitchik, Goldman, and Hartman. I am not sure how much I agree with any of these readings.

Sagi likes Soloveitchik as confessional, existential, communication, and sensitive to the human plight,it makes for good “thematic halakhah.” but notes that Soloveitchik is not really existentialist and is more Kierkegaard where the natural order is one of alienation serves to drive us to religion. But in Sagi’s harsh reading of Solovetichik, religion is the only true, useful, and acceptable vision of man, a limited relationship to the modern world. Hence a retreat from the modern world, or a least a very rigid hierarchy. Modern man is characterized by alienation, boredom, frustration, and Soloveitchik cannot see the positive in modern secular man.  In Sagi’s opinion, there is openness to the human plight but closure to modern values. (American readers may not be familiar with this Israeli reading)

Sagi likes Leibowitz for his ability to compartmentalize religion from the modern world. For Leibowitz even the fear and trembling associated with relgion, as in Kierkeguard, are not religious but part of ones secular psychology, personal struggles, and inner self. Only faith is faith. He likes the valuing of the Oral Torah over the written Torah, since the written torah is from God and we cannot know its true meaning, but we do know the Oral law since we create it. And our following it for its own sake is faith. No realization of divine ideal through halakhah as in Soloveitchik but pure lishmah, pure obedience. Modern formulation allows the tradition to be kept.

Sagi’s hero is Eliezer Goldman, (student of Soloveitchik, and trained in American jurisprudence turned kibbutznik and Maimonidean- In my time his articles had a cult following). Goldman distinguishes between illusory and non-illusory faith, illusory faith seeks to remake the world according to ones yearnings. In contrast, non-illusory faith accepts the world as it is and there is no escape from reality. There is no certainty of any traditional metaphysical claims. Faith allows one to accept God and revelation; revelation is not a datum of experience but part of the worldview after faith. Revelation is the recognition of the halakhic realm as heteronomous. Commandments have meaning and value but not reasons, causes or factual referents.

All halakhah is grounded in meta-halakhah as its meaning. (Rabbi Wurzburger and Prof Twersky took the concept from Goldman.) Goldman rejects the legal formalism of Kelsen and Hart and stresses instead the worldview of the jurists, the need for juridical autonomy, and values. Values and principles do not rest on facts.  (Today this is closest to what is taught under the broad category of Dworken followers, and has elements of Isaiah Berlin.)  The law needs to be realistic and adapt to changing situations. And just like Maimonides poured “Old wine in new bottles” by reading Torah through Aristotle, we are self- conscious in our need for a new formulation. Like Maimonides, he rejects the view of the hamon am, the ordinary believer, as not true faith. (Somehow Sagi calls this Dwroken-Berlin approach post-modern.)

Sagi presents Hartman as a modernist in that he is in dialogue with the tradition and questions it.  He quotes Hartman as saying that Jewish thinkers know their period or text, while Jewish philosophers also seek to dialogue the Jewish thought with the present and other cultures. For Hartman, Maimonides as hero of integration and synthesis. Hartman chooses to develop his thought from Halakhah and Hazal over the Bible because the Bible is too theocentric. Halakhah is better for an anthropocentric philosophy. Hartman offers a Torah of pluralism of human construction, answers to human needs, a rejection of the theocentric,  and a rejection of terms like “alienation” as vestiges of older European thought. Hartman offers a halakhic hope for the state of Israel and the messiah, which is this-worldly, conservative and realistic—unlike the utopia, apocalyptic and unrealistic hope of others.

As a side story, Sagi has a great chapter of the coming to be of Leibowitz’s compartmentalized view. It all started with a forgotten 1952 article by Ernst Simon “Are we still Jews?”  The article discussed the views of his friends and colleagues in the “Bahad”- German religious kibbutz movement. He wrote that they are all Catholic in that they want an all encompassing view of Torah. Simon argued that a Protestant approach would allow for recognizing the secular state, and offers freedom for religious Jews to restore a meaningful existence for ourselves. In the article, he discusses his friend, the Bnai Akiva leader Leibowitz  who thought that we need to change the halakhah radically for the new state  to be all encompassing. Simon compares him to a reverse of Neturei Karta who want everything as it was. Leibowitz changes his view to agree with Simon and goes further using dialectic theology. The state and all of life is secular except for religion itself, all religion is a personal decision. Leibowitz even renames his  1943 essay from “Educating toward a Torah State” to “Education towards Torah in a Modern Society.”Rabbi Moshe Zvei Neriah also responded in 1952 to Simon and wrote that the secular state is a problem to our religious vision. Therefore must give religious meaning to the state

Intersecting Pathways

Marc Krell, Intersecting Pathways, Modern Jewish Theologians in Conversation with Christianity, Oxford 2003

Krell seeks to examine the Jewish-Christian interaction by focusing on Hans Joachim Schoeps, Franz Rosenzweig, Richard Rubenstein and Yitz Greenberg. His introduction cites among others Steve Wasserstrom, Boyarin, and the cultural theory of Katheryn Tanner to go beyond the essentialist category of influence.  The book is filled with quotes of prior scholar and is rather associative. Krell’s method if applied to my blog would cull the quotes from Pope Benedict to characterize my thought.

However, it is nice to have some more Hans Joachim Schoeps, an important 20th century thinker in English. Schoeps used existential and dialectic themes to study the Jewish Christian relationship and he may be the source for the understanding of Rosenzweig as seeing the two faiths as two paths. Schoeps was the advocate of Jewish-Christian dialogue that assumes we can understand each others faith. When Soloveitchik and Walter Wurzburger argued against dialogue, Schoeps’ position was the one rejected.

As an interesting point, .Schoeps wrote that Revelation in Judaism offers redemption from sin and the experience of mercy. Alexander Altmann argued the orthodox position that revelation is separate from redemption.

I am less certain; while Shavuot is clearly separate than Yom Kippur, but many locate their redemption in the past. They assume that their conversion to the acceptance of the halakhah, as either BT or moment of maturation has redeemed them from their prior existence. Or that their acceptance of the system has put them on the path of mercy and the world to come. Unlike Altmann’s position, we do not see a Jewish urgency for redemption and the world to come. Many act as if one gets the world-to-come upon buying a house in an orthodox neighborhood; they seem to think that they cannot lose redemption. And Soloveitchik has, similar to Schoeps, a “redemptive sacrificial act” that redeems us from our material existence.

Revelation as Reconciliation

Pope Benedict of the week,

They just published his 1955 thesis on 13th century ramifications of Bonaventure on history. In Ratzinger’s reading the age of the spirit is not heretical and apocalyptic nor spiritualized. The age  is one of a fulfillment of spirit in reconciliation and peace. The thesis was semi-rejected since in the mid twentieth century mystics were seen as outside the mainstream.

The innovation of the thesis is similar to a thesis on Torat Azilut and Tikkune Zohar, which would reject Gershon Scholem and replace it with a fulfillment scheme. In Benedict’s approach, Tikkune  Zohar does not contain the seeds of antinomianism and transvaluation of Rabbinic categories as explained by Scholem, rather a proto-version of Rav Kook’s evolutionary vision of Orot Hakodesh. Such a Jewish application would use Zohar to move discussion of revelation in Judaism away from texts and toward the historical effect on the Jewish people and the Jewish embracing of the world.

Ratzinger dug deep in his research. And he discovered that in Bonaventure, there is a strong connection with the vision of Joachim of Fiore, the Franciscan who had prophesied the imminent advent of a third age after those of the Father and the Son, an age of the Spirit, with a renewed and entirely “spiritual” Church, poor, reconciled with Greeks and Jews, in a world restored to peace.

One of the examiners, professor Michael Schmaus, didn’t like the thesis. But Ratzinger avoided rejection by representing only the second part of his text, which had not received any objections.

If neo-Scholastic theology essentially understood Revelation as the divine transmission of mysteries, which remain inaccessible to the human mind, today Revelation is considered as God’s manifestation of himself in an historical action.


Many Jewish theories of revelation are historic, not scholastic, ranging from Eliezer Berkovits to Avigdor Miller and Jon Levenson. There seems to be something useful here to create a more externally focused view of revelation. Kook and Berkovits connect revelation to Zionism. How about repair, expansion, or completion?

Sacred Attunments —part 1

Prof Michael Fishbane spoke in our minyan one of the mornings of Rosh Hashanah.

Fishbane’s talk was based on his book Sacred Attunements, which came out one year ago.

He opened with the idea that we are awakened from below through the significant events of our lives.

Then the talk had three parts.

The need to find our sense of self, our groundedness.

The need to hear the call of the moment and the uniqueness of the mitzvah we are called to do.

The need to develop a God consciousness in our lives.

The conclusion was the idea that in Hasidic thought the Shofar is God speaking through us.

I read Fishbane’s book a year ago which was billed as the first major theological work in a generation. In the year, it has not generated much review except for pre-publication review by David Novak in First Things, which focused on Novak’s pet themes “why didn’t he engage Christianity and particularism more?” What not more the pure monotheism of Herman Cohen and how to avoid polytheism?” And to his chagrin Novak had to conclude that Fishbane is about God-Talk and awakening people to theology.

Since God talk and theology is my thing. I may write a review and this may help determine if I do.

As some first thoughts:

1] Fishbane seems to return the technical Kabbalah to Buber and Heschel. He assumes that his reader/listener knows the terms awakening from below (itaruta delitata) inner light (or penimi), Pardes, devekut, hokhmah, binah. He assumes that the current cannon includes required academic courses in an intro to the Zohar and an intro to Hasidut.

2] The minyan has gotten used to his talks. But the first times he spoke the questions afterwards reflected a more Lutheran inspired modern Orthodoxy. “We confront God and then recoil.” “We follow the law and do not have God directly in our lives”.We cannot trust the self”  “The experience of God can only be know though the normative law.“ Fishbane is comfortable with direct God talk and as a once born optimist he does not have the dark side of the twice born.

3] He assumes that everyone is looking to get in touch with themselves. Most people are not. He also assumes that his audience is transparent and psychologically aware in their religious lives. For Fishbane, the problem is habit not lack of reflection, denial, or placing the onus on the community.

4]  Fishbane calls Halacha as “the gestures of the generations,”  and thinks we need to avoid “spiritual plagiarism.”

He develops Scholem’s idea of Torah as organism into Torah kelulah: God’s ongoing presence. We have an opening to receive God’s word in everything if we are “attuned” to it.  The fullness of Torah Kelulah is unsayable.  What he calls the “Torah Kelulah” is a caesural opening in which God’s creative power issues forth into a manifest universe that includes a system of natural law and the moral reality of human existence. It is the “kiss of divine truth on the vastness of world-being.”

The Written Torah. Scripture. Is the “unsayable.”.
Torah she-be’al peh: the Oral Torah. This is the ongoing expression and development of the Written Torah  Religious life is not prayer or interpersonal relations as it was for Heschel and Buber, but religious life is in Torah study as reflected, imbibed, and present in the self. This process includes interiorization, centering, and silence

This seems to be a Heidegger influenced view of revelation. (It needs to be compared to Rahner’s mystical use of Heidegger.) Heidegger wites:

[T]o exist as Da-sein means to hold open a domain through its capacity to receive-perceive the significance of things that are given to it and that address it by virtue of its own “clearing”. Zollikon Seminars, 4/H4.

One of Fishbane’s students has already used a pre-publication draft to apply the theory “to Jewish education, particularly with respect to the characterization, development, and reinforcement of theological dispositions.” Daniel Marom Journal of Jewish Education, Volume 74, Issue s1 2008 , pages 29 – 51 I have not read the article yet.