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From Defender to Critic

The Search for a New Jewish Self

Dr. David Hartman (z"l)

6 x 9, 336 pp, Hardcover, 978-1-58023-515-0

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A Vital, Living Judaism Can Be Found When the Voice of the Past Engages Modern Experience

“[This] synthesis of tradition and modernity is not a philosophy meant to serve as the platform for a new movement or institution, but a process of living experience among individuals and communities that choose to adopt its angle of vision. It is a process that demands constant introspection and renewal and cannot be branded or co-opted by any formal or official frame of reference. It stands separate from all expressions of institutionalized Judaism, as it never knows what new forces it will absorb as it moves into the future.”

from the Introduction

Dr. David Hartman, the world’s leading modern Orthodox theologian, presents his own painful spiritual evolution from defender of the rule-based system of Jewish law to revolutionary proponent of a theology of empowerment, one that encourages individuals and communities to take greater levels of responsibility for their religious lives. In this daring self-examination, he explains how his goals were not to strip halakha—or the past—of its authority but to create a space for questioning and critique that allows for the traditionally religious Jew to act out a moral life in tune with modern experience.

In achieving this synthesis of tradition with the sensibilities of contemporary Judaism, Hartman captures precisely what creates vitality in living Judaism and charts the path to nurture its vitality forever.

Praise for From Defender to Critic

“What matters to Hartman is the truth, not the source—even if it’s the Torah. Courageous.... Every serious Jew should read this inspiring and enlightening book.”

Jewish Media Review

Praise for Dr. David Hartman’s Work

“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

“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

“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

“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

“Hartman stands in the tradition of Abraham Joshua Heschel as a Jew who can speak to both his people and to others with equal clarity.”

Harvey Cox, professor of divinity, Harvard University

 

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