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Radical Responsibility:: Celebrating the Thought of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Hardcover – 1 Jan 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Maggid (1 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592643663
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592643660
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 539,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Barry Levene on 25 July 2013
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While an excellent book be under no illusion. This is not a lightweight collection of the Chief Rabbi's thoughts but a heavy collection of deep reflections by other writers looking at the topics on which he focussed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Evenari on 8 Mar. 2013
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and everything he writes. I especially like what he says about our responsibility for the world and the people around us.
If we are religious, it is not for going into a hiding place and enjoy religion there, although many seem to feel good this way,
but to live our life within the world with Responsibility.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This book contains thirteen very intelligent and insightful essays 10 Feb. 2013
By Israel Drazin - Published on Amazon.com
Thirteen distinguished scholars wrote articles to honor the Chief Rabbi on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday and his retirement from his high position. The essays are incorporated into this book.

Joshua Berman, for example, gives a penetrating, insightful, and original interpretation of the rather strange episode in the biblical book Joshua 7. The Bible states that a man called Achan stole some booty after the Israelite victory at Jericho, just after the Israelites entered Canaan under the leadership oh Moses' successor Joshua. Achan acted alone in violating God's clearly enunciated ban against taking any booty. Yet, despite the Bible's clear statement that he acted alone, Scripture tells us that all the Israelites were punished because of his deed: Israel lost its next battle against the city of Ai and suffered thirty-six casualties. Complicating the events, Scripture states that Achan's guilt was only discovered after God instructed Moses to conduct a series of lots. When Achan's guilt is revealed, he and his family (according to one interpretation of Scripture) are executed.

The story raises many questions, such as: Why did Achan violate a clear divine command? Why was an entire society punished for the crime committed by one man? Dr. Berman tells readers the views of some ancient and modern scholars and then offers his own explanation of the episode, and he explains when there should be collective responsibility for the crime committed by a single individual.

Menachem Kellner, to site another example, also offers Chief Rabbi Sacks and us another penetrating, intelligent, and original discussion. Most rational individuals recognize that Jews are not disparaging non-Jews when they use the term "chosen people," but are referring to what they, as Jews, feel is their responsibility. Jews recognize that other nations, cultures, and individuals might agree that they have the same goals or they might have different goals, which also help improve them and society.

One exception to this rational approach was the poet Yehudah Halevi (1075-1141) who presented a radical view in his book Kuzari, a view that Professor Kellner calls "insane." Halevi insisted that Jews are "biologically superior" to non-Jews. He wrote that individuals who convert to Judaism cannot be as good as Jews because the conversion does not change their biology. Dr. Kellner shows the absurdity of this one-of-its-kind view and compares it with the teaching of the great Jewish rational philosopher Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) who stressed that all humans were created by God who loves them all. Maimonides taught that Jews can and should learn much from non-Jews, for the truth is the truth no matter what its source.

This book was published jointly by London School of Jewish Studies, YU Press, and Maggid Books. The other ten contributors are Alasdair MacIntyre, David Shatz, Binyamin Lau, Michael Walzer, Moshe Halbertal, Michael J. Broyde, Charles Taylor, Jacob J. Schacter, Ronald Heifetz, David Berger, and Avivah G. Zornberg.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Jewish Philosophy of Torah and Chochmah (Wisdom) 17 Feb. 2013
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
This work is a Festschrift a series of essays in tribute of the Thought of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. It is ably edited and introduced by Michael J. Harris Dennis Rynhold and Tamara Wright. It contains thirteen essays divided into four sections, the first on 'Jewish Ethics and Moral Philosophy' the second on 'The Pursuit of Justice' the third on 'Religion and Contemporary Society' and the fourth on 'Leadership'. The introduction contains brief summaries of the essays.
In one sense Rabbi Sacks work is in the Tradition of combining Torah Learning and Knowledge with worldly wisdom. He however prefers to speak about this not in terms of previous Jewish thinkers, Rabbi Hirsch's'Torah and Derech Eretz' or Norman Lamm's 'Torah and Maddah' but rather in terms of 'Torah v'Chochmah.'The use of the Biblical concept 'Chochmah' to describe universal worldly wisdom which is not confined to the Jewish people alone underlines the fact that Rabbi Sacks reads Jewish sources in order to illuminate universal problems. His contributions in moral philosophy are discussed by Alasdair MacIntryre, David Shatz,
Joshua Berman, Binyamin Lau. In another of the sections the one devoted to Religion and Contemporary Society contributions are discussed by Charles Taylor Menachem Kellner and Jacob Schacter. Kellner emphasizes that Sacks is closer to Maimonedes perception of the non- Jewish world than to Yehuda Levi's greater emphasis on Jewish distinctiveness. In yet another section on Leadership Ronald Heifetz discusses the challenge of dealing with group or communities who face 'adaptive challenge' as Jews in their Exodus from Egypt. David Berger discusses leadership in Halachic situations. And Avivah Zornberg Gottlieb in an essay of Torah v'Chochmah considers the Machloket between Korach and Moshe emphasizing the linguistic elements of the dispute. The concluding essay of the volume by Tamara Wright attempts to point out further areas of exploration in development of Rabbi Sacks thought.In it she points out how Hope is a central concept of his Thought. And she cites a paragraph of his thought which says much about the tone of the volume.
"One of the most important distinctions I have learned in the course of reflection on Jewish history is the difference between optimism and hope. Optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the faith that, together we can make things better. Optimism is a passive virtue, hope an active one. It takes courage to no courage to be an optimist, but it takes a great deal of courage to have hope. Knowing what we do of our past, no Jew can be an optimist. But Jews have never- despite a history of awesome suffering- given up hope."
The essays are a fitting tribute to a remarkable hopeful Jewish leader and voice for a kinder, more just and wiser Humanity.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Sacks tribute book 8 Mar. 2013
By howard trachtman - Published on Amazon.com
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wide ranging collection of essays, most are superb
topics are current and contributors are varied.
well organized and easy to read format
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A fitting tribute 31 Mar. 2013
By Andrew Marc Greene - Published on Amazon.com
Koren have sent me a review copy of Radical Responsibility: Celebrating the Thought of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks edited by Michael J. Harris, Daniel Rynhold, and Tamra Wright. Usually I'm able to read a book over a few days, but this one has taken me over a month to read because it is so good and so full of provocative ideas.

Radical Responsibility is a festschrift on the occasion of Lord Sacks's retirement from the position of Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the [British] Commonwealth. The contributors include leading names in both Jewish and non-Jewish philosophy.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a festschrift, it's a collection of essays by the honoree's students and colleagues, on subjects that are dear to the honoree and, usually, in which he was the teacher of the contributors. So this book contains no essay by Rabbi Sacks, but it illuminates his thoughts by their reflection in the thoughts of others.

The essays are generally of a very high caliber. They are accessible to the lay reader, and explore issues which Rabbi Sacks has grappled with in his writings. Several essays rewarded immediate re-reading, because they are so full of insights and are carefully constructed. I was particularly struck by Joshua Berman's close and radical re-reading of the seventh chapter of the book of Joshua; it wrestles effectively with some troubling issues.

I also particularly relished the contributions of Alasdair MacIntyre, who sets the stage for the whole book with humor and grace; Michael Walzer and Moshe Habertal, who each consider whether it is possible to establish an objective standard of interpersonal responsibility (and, concluding that there is not, each explores how one can form a moral subjective stance); Michael J. Broyde, who uses what seems at first to be a dry legalistic question to illuminate the tensions in our deepest held beliefs; Jacob J. Schacter, who is innovative in his suggestion of a framework in which the American ideal of personal autonomy flourishes within the structure of a halachic life.

Some of the essays fall short of this standard; there is the occasional wince-inducing run-on sentence that reads like a parody of academic excess. But far more often, there are sentences that are just as long and complex, but that string together multiple themes in an effective way to prove a powerful point.

Radical Responsibility is a worthy tribute to a man who, through his teaching, his books, and his personal example has helped to define what it is to be a committed Jew who is engaged in the moral struggles of the world. As I said at the outset, I am generally a speedy reader, but this book forced me to slow down to make sure I didn't miss a thing. I highly recommend it.
I'm glad I'm not a philosopher! 23 Aug. 2013
By Manya B. Helman MD - Published on Amazon.com
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It is quite philosophical, so I gave it to my husband. I do like that people not particularly close to religion in general enjoy Rabbi Sacks insights.
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