20th Century Jewish Religious Thought

JPS has reissued Cohen and Mendes-Flohr’s vintage paintings, might be crucial, complete anthology on hand on twentieth century Jewish suggestion. This striking quantity provides a hundred and forty concise but authoritative essays through well known Jewish figures Eugene Borowitz, Emil Fackenheim, Blu Greenberg, Susannah Heschel, Jacob Neusner, Gershom Scholem, Adin Steinsaltz, and so on. They outline and mirror upon such primary principles as charity, selected humans, loss of life, kinfolk, love, fantasy, pain, Torah, culture and extra. With entries from Aesthetics to Zionism, this booklet presents amazing insights into either the Jewish event and the Judeo-Christian tradition.


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But there are also important differences between Christian and Gnostic anti-Semitism. The dualism of Pauline Christianity does not extend to a denial of the creation of the world by a good God. Nor does Pauline Christianity deny the divine origin of the Torah. Consequently, the Jews cannot be portrayed as enemies of the Light in the same radical way as in Gnosticism. Yet for every element in Gnostic anti-Semitism, there is a corresponding element in Pauline Christianity, and there are certain elements 16 ANTI-JUDAISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM in the latter that further darken the picture of the Jews, making them even more demonic than in Gnosticism.

Yet Maimonides is chiefly concerned to denounce as kofrim not simply those who deny God's existence but also those who hold wrong views about God, for example, that God is not one in the sense he specifies, or that God is corporeal (Guide 1, 36). This makes very good sense, since" existence" as such is empty unless filled with content. Against the kofrim be'ikkar, Maimonides sets the kofrim ba-Torah, who deny the Torah (MT Teshuvah 3:8). Maimonides does not distinguish with sufficient clarity this latter type of kofrim from apikorsim, whose name derives from the philosopher Epicurus.

When this midrash reached Babylonia, however, the sages there understood it literally and objected on halakhic grounds that a contract like the Sinaitic covenant made under conditions of force could not be legally valid, and thus the Israelites could not be held punishable if they violated its conditions (BT Shabo 88a). The case of this aggadah suggests the troubled reaction aggadah, especially midrash aggadah, has historically aroused. Although midrash and aggadah have always been considered part of sacred tradition, as part of the oral Law, in historical fact the two have been the neglected stepchildren of rabbinic literature, ignored and disparaged in favor of the more serious and practical rigors of the halakhah and the Talmud.

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