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Torah and Philosophic Quest (Expanded Edition)
In his 1976 Maimonides: Torah and Philosophical Quest, David Hartman departs from traditional scholarly views about Maimonides by offering a new way of understanding the great man and his work. This expanded edition contains Hartman’s new postscript. A 12th-century rabbi, scholar, physician, and philosopher, Moses Maimonides is best known for his two great works on Judaism: Mishneh Torah and Guide to the Perplexed. They have often been viewed by scholars as having different audiences and different messages, together reflecting the two sides of the author himself: Maimonides the halakhist, who focused on piety through obedience to Jewish law; and Maimonides the philosopher, who advocated closeness with God through reflection and knowledge of nature. Hartman argues that while many scholars look at one aspect of Maimonides to the exclusion or dismissal of the other, the way to really understand him is to see both adherence to the law and philosophical pursuits as two essential aspects of Judaism. Hartman’s 2009 postscript sheds new light on his argument and indeed on Judaism as Maimonides interpreted it. In it Hartman explains that while Maimonides never envisioned the integration of halakhah with philosophy, he did view them as existing in a symbiotic relationship. While the focus of the Mishneh Torah was halakha and obedience to Jewish law, Guide to the Perplexed spoke to individuals whose love of God grew through their passion, devotion and yearning to understand God’s wisdom and power in nature. Both modes of spiritual orientation lived in the thought of Maimonides.
Selections from 2000 Years of Jewish Creativity
Masterpieces of Hebrew Literature is a true masterpiece of its own--one of the few collections in which readers can find important works of Jewish tradition and culture by such authors as Rashi, Maimonides, Judah Halevi, and Joseph Caro, all in one place. Curt Leviant includes literature that spans many genres, from fiction and poetry to legal, ethical, and midrashic works; from responsa and Biblical commentary to histories and letters. His brief introductions place the works and their authors in historical perspective.
Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael is a classic collection of midrash. It contains commentary on a large part of the Book of Exodus (chapters 12 to 23) and represents the two main modes of interpretation: the halakhah (legal doctrine), and the aggadah (moral and religious teachings). The work also contains allusions to historical events and ancient legends not found elsewhere. A new introduction by noted scholar David Stern highlights the work, now published in a convenient two-volume set. It retains the original text from the JPS 1933 edition, reset in a modern, readable typeface, with Hebrew and English on facing pages and the original indexes. This classic work is widely recognized as a model of meticulous and thorough scholarship. Its translation is accurate, straightforward, and usable by scholars, students, and lay readers. Out of print for many years, it will be heralded as an important reissue that should belong to every rabbi, rabbinical school, and Jewish Studies professor, and will be an important addition to synagogue libraries and public libraries with Judaica collections
The Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai is a collection of classical midrashic interpretation of the biblical Book of Exodus. Lost for centuries, the text was reconstructed and recovered in the 19th and 20th centuries by both German and Israeli scholars from a variety of source materials, including medieval manuscripts of the text and midrashic anthologies. As one of the first collections of rabbinic biblical interpretation, the Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai is an indispensable source for understanding the history, beliefs, and practices of the earliest rabbis. This edition, translated and explicated for the first time in English by W. David Nelson, is The Jewish Publication Society's latest contribution to making ancient Jewish literature accessible to modern readers. A critical introduction provides the reader with a firm grounding in the historical setting of the text, as well as its source material, reconstruction, subject matter, and significance for understanding the history of Judaism. Set in a modern, readable typeface, the Hebrew text faces the English translation with the author's annotation beneath. Indexes include scriptural verse citations and rabbinic sages named in the text.
A Manual of Wisdom and Piety for Jewish Women (Edward E. Elson Classic)
The first-known Yiddish book to be written by a woman, Meneket Rivkah (Rivkah's Nurse) reveals a great deal about 16th-century Jewish women's lives and religious practices. It includes Rivkah bat Meir's sermons, her interpretations of the Bible, and other religious instructions on various topics to guide women in their familial relationships. First published posthumously in Prague, in 1609, Meneket Rivkah pre-dates the work of Glueckel of Hamelin and makes a new contribution to the fields of Yiddish literature and Jewish women's literature. Von Rohden's critical introduction and commentary serve to place the work within biblical and rabbinical literature, and within other Yiddish ethical works of Rivkah bat Meir's time. This is the first book to include the original Yiddish text in English translation, as well as the original Yiddish manuscript of Rivkah bat Meir's unpublished Simhes Toyre Lid. The book also includes the original Yiddish text of Meneket Rivkah.
The Path of the Upright
Mesillat Yesharim is a classic of Jewish ethical literature. Written by one of the leading kabbalists of the late Middle Ages, it is also a window into the kabbalist’s understanding of the connection between ethics and mystical vision. Luzzatto, one of the great Hebrew stylists of his time, is acknowledged by some as the first writer of modern Hebrew; thus Mesillat Yesharim is also important for its place in Hebrew literature. This translation, published originally in 1936 by JPS, is a landmark in Jewish publishing. It made this Hebrew text finally available to English readers, and it gave us insights into the groundbreaking work that Kaplan did in orienting American Jews to the deep connection between ethical living and religious belief. It is no wonder that this book has become the centerpiece of the modern-day Mussar Movement, which inspires so many on their spiritual path. Rabbi Ira Stone, consummate teacher and stirring speaker, is a major force in the resurgence of the Mussar Movement. In his introduction, he presents Luzzatto and Mesillat Yesharim in their historical context, and gives us new insights into Kaplan’s emerging theology. Stone also explains the principles of reading that he uses in his commentary and teaching to make this medieval text so inspiring to readers today. This volume contains the original Kaplan translation, as well as those sections of the text that Kaplan omitted, along with Stone’s new commentary. The original Hebrew text is in the back of the book.
Classic Selections from the Tanakh (Third Edition)
JPS first published Pathways Through the Bible in 1946, selling over 250,000 copies. It featured selections from the 1917 translation of the JPS Tanakh, "bridged" by narrative summaries written by Rabbi Cohen. Rabbi Stein replaced the 1917 JPS translation with the 1985 translation and has updated the prose and made the language gender-sensitive. This new edition shares the same essential features as the original, especially the core principle that Pathways Through the Bible, in Cohen's words, "is not intended to replace The Holy Scriptures...it is rather to be regarded as preparatory to the reading of the Bible itself.... Its purpose is to open for you pathways into the magic realm of the greatest literature ever written." 24 gold-framed sepia illustrations
Timeless Wisdom for Modern Life
In Pirke Avot: Timeless Wisdom for Modern Life, William Berkson provides a fresh, insightful, and exciting approach to this central and compelling classical Jewish ethical text. He, with the assistance of Menachem Fisch, provides a clear and comprehensible translation of the tractate, and his historical commentary draws insightfully on the sources of Jewish tradition for its explication of its sayings. Most significantly, Berkson brings the ideas found in Avot into conversation with a wide variety of philosophical, psychological, and religious perspectives so that the reader can drink deeply from the wellsprings of wisdom that Avot offers for contemporary persons – Jews and non-Jews alike. This book is a most important contribution to Jewish conversation in our time! "-- Rabbi David Ellenson, President Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religon
Conversations with Biblical Women
This rich collection celebrates 23 biblical women, from the familiar Sarah, Miriam, Ruth, and Esther, to the more mysterious Hatzlelponi mother of Samson) and the unnamed "Wife of Ovadiah." Based on the 13th-century Yemenite Midrash ha-Gadol (literally, the Great Midrash) -- a work only partially translated into English and, until now, virtually unknown to American Jews -- this new volume presents stories, commentaries, original monologues, and discussion topics touching upon the lives of Jewish women today. Penina Adelman became captivated by Midrash ha-Gadol while seeking a new ritual to perform before her daughter's bat mitzvah. She eventually enlisted a group of writers to join her in studying the midrash. These women agreed to step inside the Bible and "become" some of their ancestors. The resulting book is an unusual encounter among remarkable biblical women -- from different time periods and walks of life -- who are able to converse directly with one another and the reader. As the writers probe the hearts and minds of the biblical characters, they provide an insightful, behind-the-scenes look into the relationships of women whose feelings and actions have inspired readers throughout the ages. This book is a beautiful example of the way today's scholars are using midrash to weave together Jewish tradition and modern society. In the original Yemenite midrash, each of the women is linked to a line from the poem in Proverbs, "Eishet Chayil" (Women of Valor) -- the poem often sung at Jewish weddings by the groom to the bride and at the traditional Shabbat table by a husband to his wife, and recited at a Jewish woman's funeral. In this new book, the reader is invited to experience the blending of the familiar poem with the previously unexplored treasure trove of Midrash ha-Gadol and the new voices for each character. This extraordinary combination makes it ideal for Jewish educators, teen and adult study groups, readers of midrash, and scholars in the fields of women's studies and contemporary spirituality. It also makes a lovely gift for brides, mothers, and grandmothers.