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This interpretation of Jewish teaching by one of today's leading thinkers in the Jewish world will appeal to all people seeking to understand the relationship between the idea of divine demand and the human response between religious tradition and modernityThe Judaic tradition is often seen as being concerned with uncritical obedience to law than with individual freedom and responsibility In A Living Covenant Hartman challenges this approach revealing a Judaism grounded in a covenant a relational framework informed by the metaphor of marital love rather than that of parent child dependency This view of life places the individual firmly within community Hartman shows that the Judaic tradition need not be understood in terms of human passivity and resignation but rather as a vehicle by which human individuality and freedom can be expressed within a relational matrixWith passion and erudition David Hartman argues for a version of Judaism that is at once faithful to the tradition and fitted to the reuirements of modernity He writes like Jacob wrestling with the angel and the result for the reader is an exhilarating experience Michael Walzer Institute for Advanced Study PrincetonThis deep philosophical treatise filled with new nuanced interpretations of Torah and Talmud reads like a novel that one cannot put down until reaching the very last page Judith Hauptman Rabbi Philip R Alstat Associate Professor of Talmud The Jewish Theological Seminary; author of Rereading the Rabbis A Woman's VoiceI learned much from this book and I appreciate its theo logical courage and originality Harold M Schulweis Rabbi Cong Valley Beth Shalom Encino Calif; author of For Those Who Can't Believe

10 thoughts on “A Living Covenant The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism

  1. says:

    I can hear my teacher's voice as I read his words and recall his TorahThis is incredible Torah and unbelievably relevant in today's Jewish world and beyond Though we wrote it decades ago and I read much of it then it is incredibly fresh and pertinent today I look forward with great anticipation to studying my teacher's Torah further with my teachers his children and his students at the Institute he established in memory if his father Shalom Hartman in the weeks ahead

  2. says:

    Not a book for a beginner in theological reading but for someone who wants to understand the basics of Rabbi David Hartman's religious thought

  3. says:

    I am strictly a lay person with no background in Judaism other than that of the average participant in Jewish ritual and traditionIt seems to me that Hartman is attempting to rescue the relevance of Judaism Torah and Talmudic discourse for contemporary JewsIn raising issues he is both affirming tradition and uestioning itHis approach is religious but he does not eschew secular approaches to meaning and normativityHe wants members to be active rather than passive recipients of tradition and is trying to blend tradition with innovation which reuires freedom from the hegemony of text and traditionIt is regrettable that he didnt live to finish the work because he was exceptional in his effort to explore and affirm his understanding of tradition and innovation A philosophical approach is rare in contemporary Jewish religious commentary That takes courageI found it helpful that Hartman raises issues that thinking Jews are attempting to address in their own lives and practices The book hinges on comparison and contrasts between three seminal Jewish thinkers SoloveichikLeiberman and MaimonidesHartman examines what he sees as the flaws in Soloveichik's Lonely Man of Faith and Leibowitz's reiteration and practice regardless of meaning or insightIssues raised by Hartman are autonomy versus conformity to received doctrine;metaphysical versus human priorities in considering the normative;repressive versus emancipatory trends in Jewish practice and understanding;the compatibility of secular versus religious approaches to received tradition from Sinai;the expunging and restoration of individuality in practice and insight;the mindlessness of reiterative practice versus the importance of experience and history;the pathology of solipsism the lonely man of faith versus intersubjectivity and reaching out to others; the tensions between Creation and creativity; and the tensions between divine rule and rationality MaimonidesEach one of these issues would deserve a tome unto itself although his approach is integrativeIt seems to me that Hartman despite his criticism of Spinoza does not see humanism as inimical to Judaism I admire Hartman for challenging authoritarian and hegemonic approaches to tradition practice and identity and his challenging of insular approaches to Jewish continuity

  4. says:

    I really like the idea of a covenantal relationship with God something that changes and evolves but is still based in a shared understanding of history and value It's a rare sage that bases his radical philosophy in text and primary sources but that's what makes Hartman so amazing

  5. says:

    This was a wonderful and very rigorous book about productive ways to interpret various aspects of Judaism so as to make it into a living practice Hartman is an astonishingly fertile and strong thinker and I loved seeing him wrestle with his own influences Soloveitchik Leibowitz Maimonides as well as work to make Judaism something viable for modernity One of my favorite parts of the book was when Hartman talked about suffering and eschatology arguing that one does not have to work suffering into an eschatological framework in order to live a meaningful Jewish life and think productively about the meaning of suffering I also liked Hartman's reading of the exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Mt Sinai in the context of the parent child relationship Finally Hartman was full of rich insight into what mature and loving relationships entail and the relationship between these relationships and one's relationship to Judaism and God This is the best book about Judaism that I have read as an adult and I look forward to engaging with of Hartman's texts

  6. says:

    A Living Covenant The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism by David Hartman 1998