Learn how to live life inspired by the timeless wisdom of Jewish ethical values.
“The works that comprise Jewish ethical literature are self-help manuals in the art form of life. Their primary goal is not to inform but to transform their readers…. No human emotion, no human conflict, no moral problem eludes their grasp.”
—from the Introduction
Jewish ethical literature is a genre that has been centuries in the making—and yet the wisdom and guidance offered in these classic texts has transcended the gap between ancient and medieval worlds and our own society today. With insightful commentary, passion and expertise, Rabbis Byron L. Sherwin and Seymour J. Cohen guide us through traditional texts. They give us clear explanations of the historical context of each writing and thoughtful applications of their wisdom on the problems we grapple with today.
Explore some of the most influential Jewish ethical texts, including:
- The Zohar, the cornerstone text of Kabbalah
- The Holy Letter, the first book of its time to apply Kabbalistic ideas to marriage, holiness and sexual relations
- The Path of the Upright by Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto
- Duties of the Heart by Bahya ibn Pakudah
- Nahmanides’ Commentary on the Torah
“Jewish ethics is not simply ‘being a good person.’ It means understanding the Jewish sources. Precisely the right texts for attuning our lives to the way that God wants us to live…. This is a treasure trove of wisdom.”
—Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin, author, Being God’s Partner: How to Find the Hidden Link Between Spirituality and Your Work
“A self-help manual with a thousand years of Jewish wisdom to back it up. A wonderful tool for anyone wanting to grow as a person and a mensch.”
—Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, director, Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
“This is a book that contains wisdom, and not just information. We will turn to it many times for guidance, insight and perspective.”
—Rabbi Jack Riemer, coeditor, Ethical Wills & How to Prepare Them: A Guide to Sharing Your Values from Generation to Generation
“Anyone searching for answers to the current question, ‘Why be Jewish?’ will find all of them in this efficiently arranged and documented work…. Excellent.”
—American Library Association’s Booklist
“This is the book every rabbi and teacher has been waiting for to help stem the tide of apathy and assimilation among Jews who are not aware of how powerful the ethical thrust in Jewish traditional literature truly is.”
—Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins, author, The Wisdom of Judaism: An Introduction to the Values of the Talmud
“There are values and then there are Jewish values, i.e., the way we act as Jews and how we Jews act as human beings. I am delighted to see such a fine selection of combined text and comments, each informative, every one much needed.”
—Danny Siegel, lecturer, poet and author
Dr. Byron L. Sherwin (z"l), a leading scholar in Jewish theology, served for over forty years as professor of Jewish philosophy and mysticism at Chicago’s Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. He is the author of twenty-five books and over 150 articles, including In Partnership with God: Contemporary Jewish Law and Ethics; Why Be Good? and Jewish Ethics for the 21st Century. Active in international Jewish communal affairs and interfaith relations, Rabbi Sherwin was the first recipient of the “Man of Reconciliation” award from the Polish Council of Christians and Jews.
Dr. Seymour J. Cohen (z"l) opened up to English readers the previously little-known genre of medieval Jewish ethical literature through his masterful translations of its classics, including The Ways of the Righteous; The Book of the Righteous and The Holy Letter. He was president of the Rabbinical Assembly and the Synagogue Council of America.