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To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility [Hardcover]

Jonathan Sacks
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 May 2005
Jonathan Sacks is an outstanding intellectual of our time. Unlike many others, he also writes in an accessible way. Here, he has written a very profound and philosophical book that is extremely readable. One of Jonathan Sacks' major concerns is that religion is one of the principal causes of dissent, hatred and violence in the world, and he wishes the Jewish religion to make its contribution towards healing the deep wounds that this creates. One of Judaism's most distinctive and challenging ideas is its ethics of responsibility. We have been given the gift of freedom and we in turn have to honour and enhance the freedom of others. More than in any previous generation, we have come to see the individual as the sole source of meaning. We have become lonely selves in search of purely personal fulfilment. This argues the author is a mistake, for ethics are conveened with the life we live together and the goods we share- that only exist by virtue of being shared. The Chief Rabbi argues his case in a way which shows a profound engagement with the human condition today and a reflection of how widely he has read. He talks with as much authority about the Old Testament as he does about Maimonides, Sigmund Freud or Hannah Arendt, and his views on Israel are as distinctive as ever. This book is written to be studied carefully by members of the Chief Rabbi's own community. But it is also a clarion call to the outside world to come to its senses.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. (5 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826486223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826486226
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 236,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth since September 1, 1991, the sixth incumbent since 1845.

In July 2009, appointed to the House of Lords as a cross-bencher.

Prior to becoming Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Sacks served as Principal of Jews' College, London, the world's oldest rabbinical seminary, as well as rabbi of the Golders Green and Marble Arch synagogues in London. He gained rabbinic ordination from Jews' College and London's Yeshiva Etz Chaim.

His secular academic career has also been a distinguished one. Educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained first class honours in Philosophy, he pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King's College, London. Sir Jonathan has been Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex, Sherman Lecturer at Manchester University, Riddell Lecturer at Newcastle University, Cook Lecturer at the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and St. Andrews and Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is currently Visiting Professor of Theology at Kings' College London. He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Bar Ilan, Cambridge, Glasgow, Haifa, Middlesex, Yeshiva University New York, University of Liverpool, St. Andrews University and Leeds Metropolitan University, and is an honorary fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and King's College London. In September 2001, the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred on him a Doctorate of Divinity in recognition of his first ten years in the Chief Rabbinate.

At his installation as Chief Rabbi in 1991, Dr Sacks set out his vision of a reinvigorated Anglo-Jewry and launched it with a Decade of Jewish Renewal, followed by a series of innovative communal projects. These included Jewish Continuity (a national foundation funding programmes in Jewish education and outreach), the Association of Jewish Business Ethics, the Chief Rabbinate Awards for Excellence, the Chief Rabbinate Bursaries, and Community Development, a national programme to enhance Jewish community life. In 1995, he received the Jerusalem Prize for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life. In September 2001 the Chief Rabbi began his second decade of office with a call to Jewish Responsibility and a renewed commitment to the ethical dimension of Judaism. He was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2005. A notably gifted communicator, the Chief Rabbi is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the national press. He frequently delivers BBC RADIO 4's THOUGHT FOR THE DAY, writes a monthly CREDO column for THE TIMES and delivers an annual Rosh Hashanah message on BBC 2. In 1990 he was invited by the BBC Board of Governors to deliver the annual Reith Lectures on the subject of THE PERSISTENCE OF FAITH.

The Dignity of Difference was awarded the 2004 Grawemeyer Prize for Religion, and A Letter in the Scroll a National Jewish Book Award 2002.

Born in 1948 in London, he has been married to Elaine since 1970. They have three children, Joshua, Dina and Gila and five grandchildren.


Tradition in an Untraditional Age (1990)

Persistence of Faith (1991)

Arguments for the Sake of Heaven (1991)

Crisis and Covenant (1992)

One People? (1993)

Will We Have Jewish Grandchildren? (1994)

Community of Faith (1995)

Faith in the Future (1998)

The Politics of Hope (1997)

Morals and Markets (1999)

Celebrating Life (2000)

Radical Then, Radical Now (2001)

The Dignity of Difference (2002)

The Chief Rabbi's Haggadah (2003)

From Optimism to Hope (2004)

To Heal a Fractured World (2005)

The Authorised Daily Prayer Book: new translation and commentary (2006)

The Home We Build Together (2007)

Future Tense (2009)

Product Description


'A book for our time. Sacks writes with a quiet passion that is accessible to religionist and secularist alike... a desperately needed transfusion of hope.' --Catholic Herald

'There is much of great wisdom here, for readers of all faiths and none.' --Bishop of Thetford --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dr Jonathan Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of Britian and the Commonwealth since 1991. A regular broadcaster for many years, he wrote the award winning The Dignity of Difference and many of his other books are in print with Continuum.

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I'm not affiliated to any religion, but I believe in living as an example in ethics,
so I have enjoyed reading "To heal a fractured world".
The book is well written, with many examples from the Bible, history and modern life.
Sometimes I've read again the same chapter, in order to understand better.
It can speak to any religious as well as secular people of good will, therefore I recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An uplifting work 4 Aug 2013
By William Cohen VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had a Christian upbringing, but I've always been attracted to self-help literature. Reading books by Jonathan Sacks makes me admire the way Judaism isn't just a faith, it's a community. They don't just tell the stories, they think hard about how it's best to live your life and deal with the problems every generation has to face.

The line 'that what we want to do meets what needs to be done, that is where God wants us to be' is all the career guidance you need, but I've never heard the Anglican church be so bold as to offer career advice. In Judaism, it's not acceptable to embarrass another person in public. That's the sort of imperative we need to hear articulated when they put out another series of Big Brother or The Weakest Link.

The content is high-brow, but despite the fact that Sacks has an academic background, he's never hard to follow. The book is overflowing with social commentary and Biblical insight.

I was interested to read about how the Chief Rabbi was inspired by Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneersohn. I've been reading up about him.

I'm now on my next book by the same author.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 12 Aug 2014
This is the best book I've I have ever read on the subject.
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2 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book, with a hollow centre 22 Jun 2010
Generally, this is a thoughtful book, and most inspiring, especially the focus on the Jewish doctrine of tikkun olam, which translated pretty much means the same as the title. Sadly though, where it fails to satisfy is in the author's reticence, within the book itself, in practising what he preaches. I found two particularly noticeable instances of this, both interlinked.

Towards the end of his book (p.209-215 of the 2005 paperback ed.), after recounting the touching story of Yoni Jesner's post mortem gift of life to the 7-year-old Palestinian girl, Yasim Abu Ramila, Sacks regretably appears to resort to negative stereotyping. In discussing the shocking and unjustifiable murder of the journalist, Daniel Pearl, the author writes of Pearl's father's desire "to engage with the world of Islam that had harboured Daniel's killers." To be sure, his murderers were living in Pakistan, a Muslim-majority country; but to talk of "harbouring" is surely to imply the population's general connivance with the crime. He then goes on to write of reaching out to Muslims, "one of whose people had just murdered a member of your family." Again, what is the sense of this? Is it not as pointless as remarking that, at Yitzak Rabin's funeral, his widow was surrounded by Jews, one of whom had just murdered a member of her family.

This brings me back to p.73, where Sacks outlines that "... For centuries Spain had been the home of medieval Jewry's golden age. Under relatively liberal regimes, Jews had risen to eminence in business, the sciences and public life. Their expertise was sought in finance, medicine and diplomacy. They sustained a rich intellectual and cultural life. Jewish learning flourished. Spanish Jewry was noted for its achievements in Jewish law, mysticism and philosophy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring and moving Jewish moral guide for mankind 10 Dec 2006
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
This is a beautifully written and inspiring work. It is rich in personal anecdote, story and example. It teaches the essence of Jewish ethics as a way of living in the modern and post- modern world. Rabbi Sacks speaks much in this book about responsibility. He speaks much about the world having gone to far in concentrating on individual development alone, without demanding connection and contribution to family and community. His message is that the Jewish covenant with God is one for recreating the world as better place, for improving the situation for others. He is concerned here with social justice and with righteousness. He believes that the seperation of the ethical from the religious is like separating two different parts of the brain that are meant to work together. He believes the Jewish imperative is to be both holy and good. And also he teaches this means finding a way to make tikkun olam and improve the well- being of all of mankind.

Rabbi Sacks tells us inspiring stories of people who have suffered and somehow managed to in that suffering still give to others. He tells us about many of the people who do goodness and acts of kindness for others modestly. He says that when he as a young person a young Rabbi first began to officiate at funerals he discovered that what relatives wanted said about the person who was gone, was nothing about their wealth power achievement in the world, but rather about their kindness and goodness to others.

His message is that each individual human being can by being good to others help mend the brokenness of the world. It is not that he is naive or believes that all the problems of this world, many of which he discusses in detail in this book can be instantly solved by such goodness. But rather that such goodness and giving to others cannot only help make it better for them, but can be the key to finding and making meaning in one's own life.

This book is a sound sane sensible ethical and moral guide for humanity.

An outstanding work but a teacher who understands that it is better to love than to fear, and better to light a single candle than to suffer in the darkness.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an ethical discussion we all need to have 14 Jun 2009
By J Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility

This is a beautifully written and thought provoking discussion of the ethical responsibilities that we all have to ourselves, each other, and to society as a whole. It is written from the Jewish perspective, but as my Sunday school class has discovered, is an excellent launching pad for Christians, as well. It is a perfect addition to the study of Leviticus, for example.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for all humanity 24 Feb 2012
By sandgroper - Published on Amazon.com
I found this book inspirational. Rabbi Sacks' draws from millenia of literature and philosophy, including the Torah and famous Jewish sources but also from current literature and events. He writes with a magnetic charm and eloquence.
My wife, a social worker, bought this book, but I started reading before she did, and I couldn't put it down till I'd read it from cover to cover.
I commend it to you without any reservation whatsoever.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breath of Fresh Air 10 Jan 2007
By Julia Wyndham - Published on Amazon.com
I think this book should be required reading for all those in our government who are looking for and working toward a peaceful solution to the war in Iraq. Rabbi Sachs draws on his deep understanding of the Torah and of human nature in discussing the basics of a religious perspective on the seemingly irreconcilable problems of relationships in the middle east. He has moved beyond the political, geographical, religious discussion of the issues which create enmity and sets our thoughts on basic theological components which we must consider if we are serious about healing our divisions. He takes us deep into our own hearts and challenges us to heal our own hearts first.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written book on Jewish thought and values 28 April 2008
By Linda Abraham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed R. Sachs's work. He draws on his rich knowledge of classic Jewish sources and secular philosophy to craft a beautifully written work that is both insightful and thought-provoking.
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