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A Tree of Life: Diversity, Flexibility, and Creativity in Jewish Law (Second Edition) (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization) Paperback – 10 Jan 2007

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Louis Jacobs demonstrates a profound scholarship in the second edition of this important work. The breadth of source and the volume of analysis are truly extraordinary. --Reuven Livingstone, Jewish Chronicle

'Rabbi Louis Jacobs is well known as a highly distinguished liberal interpreter of Judaism. Many of his works . . . are immediately accessible to the general reader, but his interpretation is deeply rooted in scholarly study of the rabbinic writings, sources which also inspire "conservative" expressions of a Judaism markedly different from his own . . . The author makes his point in a fascinating way . . . Vivid light is cast on Jewish Christian relations among other issues . . . Jacobs's book is a fund of valuable information, but its argument is also a signal instance of the attachment to tradition embraced with a rational integrity.' --William Horbury, Expository Times

One of the few works on the nature and development of Jewish law written from a Conservative point of view, and it can be seen as a classic . . . Jacobs succeeds in an admirable way in his self-imposed task of developing a theory of halakhic change for those who are loyal to the halakhic traditions and yet accept modern values , a task which will probably continue to occupy Conservative and Orthodox thinkers for generations to come. --Catherine Hezser, Journal of Law and Religion

About the Author

Louis Jacobs, founding rabbi of the New London Synagogue, was a renowned scholar with an international reputation as a lecturer. He was the author of The Jewish Religion: A Companion (1995) and of many other distinguished books, several of them published by the Littman Library, including Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1999), Hasidic Prayer (paperback 1993), and Theology in the Responsa (paperback 2005), as well as an edition and translation of Zevi Hirsch Eichenstein s Turn Aside from Evil and Do Good (1995). He died in 2006.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9a968744) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a9758d0) out of 5 stars Finally, a revised edition of this important work 1 Dec. 2000
By Robert New England - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Out of all the books I have come across on the development of halakha (Jewish law), this may well be the most imporant. Rabbi Jacobs, an adherent of the historical school, illustrates that Jewish law is not - and never has been - a closed system that ignores the outside world. As the book notes "considerations beyond the purely halakhic have always played a big part in the making of halakhah, both in its original formulation and in its subsequent development. Throughout the ages halakhic rulings have been influenced by rabbis' attitudes towards the wider ideals and demands of Judaism and by social, economic, theological, and even political considerations."
The publisher notes that "The most controversial element of _A Tree of Life_, when it was first published in 1984 and subsequently, was its final chapter, 'Towards a Non-Fundamentalist Halakhah'. The new introduction written for this edition responds to criticisms raised from both the right and the left wings of the Jewish world, and also summarizes further work that has been done by scholars in the various areas that the book covers. The bibliography and notes have been expanded, and the format of the book has been enlarged to allow the copious notes to be set at the foot of the page."
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a975a50) out of 5 stars Thought provoking, wide ranging perspective on Halacha 13 Jan. 2002
By Edwin Slonim - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Forgiving Louis Jacobs repetitive self-pitying polemic concerning his "disbarment" from the Orthodox establishment in England, this book is an excellent and wide ranging review of the flexibility which the Halacha has historically shown in comparison with the paralysis that has struck Halachic Judaism since the Enlightenment.
Although the historical analysis is not as deep as Neusner, this book is much easier to read, and highly recommended for anyone willing to to view Halacha as a way of life, without being bound to fundamentalist thought.
If you are interested in the development of Halacha, this is an excellent introduction with many interesting and classic examples.
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