Dr. David Hartman with Charlie Buckholtz
Covenant & Conscience—A Groundbreaking Journey to the Heart of Halakha
“Anyone curious about the Jewish way of life, yet dissatisfied with much of contemporary Jewish theology and practice—repelled, perhaps, by the cheap and vulgar apologetics of those who seek to justify and sustain some of the tradition’s systematic immoralities, who smugly deny expression to any doubt or uncertainty, claiming a monopoly on absolute truth—is invited to join me on this pilgrimage.”
—from the Introduction
In this deeply personal look at the struggle between commitment to Jewish religious tradition and personal morality, Dr. David Hartman, the world’s leading Modern Orthodox Jewish theologian, probes the deepest questions at the heart of what it means to be a human being and a Jew.
Dr. Hartman draws on a lifetime of learning, teaching and experience as a social activist to present an intellectual framework for examining covenantal theology as it is applied to religious life. As much an expression of his impassioned commitment to Jewish law as it is testament to a lifetime of intellectual questioning and courage, this bold examination of the halakhic system offers fresh insights into Judaism and the quest for spiritual nourishment.
“Powerful.... The agony of this book is how Hartman wrestles with the tension between the God he believes in, the tradition that nourished him and to which he has profound loyalty and love, and the encounters with reality that force him to challenge that tradition.... [Looks] for a way of living with integrity and confronting the reality of the world.... Most impressive.”
—Los Angeles Jewish Journal
“David Hartman inhabits the places of the impossible—where truths collide—with courage. A traditional and halakhic Judaism will emerge from its clash with the ethical more faithful to its essence.”
—Rabbi Shira Milgrom, Congregation Kol Ami, White Plains, New York
“Insightful and thought-provoking ... a new, highly provocative approach to Jewish law that grapples with the place of personal morality.... Passionate, intelligent, and honest ... equipped to open an important and meaningful dialogue.”
“A masterful, passionate confessional of an encounter in one man’s soul between traditional Judaism and his deepest moral sensibilities. Whether or not you agree with Rabbi Hartman’s vision, this book will pursue you long after you have read it.”
—Yehuda (Jerome) Gellman, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
“Another essential and prophetic work from one of the great religious thinkers of the age. This deeply felt book is intensely personal yet intellectually rigorous—a challenge and a consolation for everyone who looks for God.”
—James Carroll, author, Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World
“Tackles a question that bedevils people of all faiths, [while being] sensitive to the wide variety of beliefs of contemporary Jews: What should you do when the dictates of your religious practice conflict with what you know, in your heart, to be right?”
“This is the book from David Hartman we have been waiting for! Written with passion, clarity, and scholarship … [it] is sure to provoke a lively conversation on the nature of Jewish law, the State of Israel and what it means to live in a covenanted relationship with God.”
—Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove, PhD, Park Avenue Synagogue; editor, Jewish Theology in Our Time: A New Generation Explores the Foundations and Future of Jewish Belief
“A trenchant and controversial statement of Jewish theology…. No thinking Jew can afford to ignore this book.”
—Rabbi Neil Gillman, PhD, emeritus professor of Jewish philosophy, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America; author, Doing Jewish Theology: God, Torah and Israel in Modern Judaism
“A powerful and important book for … Jews of every denomination and lifestyle who want to discover for themselves why Judaism matters. Brilliantly, boldly and creatively challenges all of us to understand that there are indeed two Torahs—the Torah of tradition and the Torah of our own lives.”
—Rabbi Laura Geller, senior rabbi, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills
“Slides open the shut window of traditional authoritarianism and invites the fresh air of biblical and rabbinic conscience to refresh the contemporary Jewish agenda. [This book] cannot be ignored by any serious reader.”
—Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, author, Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey
“One of the most important Jewish books of our time. This is a work of kiddush Hashem, sanctifying the Holy Name, too often desecrated by believers.”
—Yossi Klein Halevi, author, At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land
A world-renowned philosopher and social activist, Dr. David Hartman is the founder and president emeritus of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Named after his late father, the Institute is dedicated to developing a new understanding of classical Judaism that provides moral and spiritual direction for Judaism’s confrontation with modernity.
Presently professor emeritus at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University’s theological seminary in New York City. He is the author of many award-winning books, including A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism (Jewish Lights) and Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest, both winners of the National Jewish Book Award; A Heart of Many Rooms: Celebrating the Many Voices within Judaism (Jewish Lights), finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and a Publishers Weekly “Best Book of the Year”; and Love and Terror in the God Encounter: The Theological Legacy of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (Jewish Lights).
Charlie Buckholtz, a rabbi and writer, is senior editor at the Shalom Hartman Institute.