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Winner—National Jewish Book Award
Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice


The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey

Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis

6 x 9, 160 pp, Quality Paperback, 978-1-58023-419-1

Also Available in Hardcover

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Winner—National Jewish Book Award
Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice


A Profound and Stirring Call to Action in Our Troubled World—
from One of America’s Great Religious Leaders
“Conscience may be understood as the hidden inner compass that guides our lives and must be searched for and recovered repeatedly. At no time more than our own is this need to retrieve the shards of broken conscience more urgent.”
from the Introduction
This clarion call to rethink our moral and political behavior examines the idea of conscience and the role conscience plays in our relationships to government, law, ethics, religion, human nature and God—and to each other. From Abraham to Abu Ghraib, from the dissenting prophets to Darfur, Rabbi Harold Schulweis probes history, the Bible and the works of contemporary thinkers for ideas about both critical disobedience and uncritical obedience. He illuminates the potential for evil and the potential for good that rests within us as individuals and as a society.
By questioning religion’s capacity—and will—to break from mindless conformity, Rabbi Schulweis challenges us to counter our current suppressive culture of obedience with the culture of moral compassion, and to fulfill religion’s obligation to make room for and carry out courageous moral dissent.

“Intersperses biblical anecdotes with philosophical theories…. Whether religious or not, readers concerned with the culture of mindless complicity will find this volume revealing and enlightening.”

Publishers Weekly

“In a world where the weak are all too often crushed and might prevails over right, where the lessons of the Holocaust are not remembered, where genocides occur almost everywhere, the lessons contained in this book are urgent and timely.”

Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter

“Invites the reader to explore Judaism from a new perspective that highlights the beauty of a people who carry the responsibility toward God, humanity, and nature to the larger community in which they live.”

Jewish Book World

“Remarkable…. Eloquently makes the case that faith can never be passive; it must assault our conscience and push us to do right.”

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president, Union for Reform Judaism

“Clearly reveals a new depth of understanding of the gift of partnership in creation afforded by God to His beloved children through the exercise of moral consciousness and ‘fear of God.’”

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian,> Armenian Church Western Diocese

“Learned and thoughtful … demonstrates that conscience constitutes the vital core of Judaism, challenging us in our complacency and inspiring us to transform morality into deeds.”

Professor Susannah Heschel, author, Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus

“Calls on us to recognize that sometimes the promptings of our conscience are more authentically the voice of God than the words of our tradition.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner, author, When Bad Things Happen to Good People

“[Makes] crucial arguments.... Calls on us to develop habits of conscience and to consider the ways to transmit that ethic to future generations. This inspiring book points the way.”

Congregational Libraries Today

“Offers a bracing reminder of how deep in the Jewish tradition lies the practice of speaking truth to authority ... and of how powerful that tradition can be in enabling us to say no when conscience so requires.”


“There are few Progressive rabbis writing today anywhere in the world who can equal Harold Schulweis for integrity, honesty, clear-sightedness and common sense.... Wonderful.”

Union of Liberal & Progressive Synagogues Newsletter


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978-1-58023-407-8 Seven Questions You're Asked in Heaven
978-1-58023-394-1 There Shall Be No Needy (HC)
978-1-58023-328-6 Way Into Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) (PB)
978-1-58023-418-4 Spiritual Activism (PB)
978-1-58023-631-7 Passing Life's Tests


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