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A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism Paperback – February 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Hartman's 1985 National Jewish Book Award-winning title presents a modern interpretation of traditional Judaic thought on prayer, the nature of god and humankind's relation to that being, tragedy and suffering, and the necessity (or not) of redemption.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"I learned much from this book, and I appreciate its theo- logical courage and originality." -- Harold M. Schulweis, Rabbi, Cong. Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, Calif.; author of For Those Who Can't Believe

"This deep philosophical treatise--filled with new, nuanced interpretations of Torah and Talmud--reads like a novel that one cannot put down until reaching the very last page." -- Judith Hauptman, Rabbi Philip R. Alstat Associate Professor of Talmud, The Jewish Theological Seminary; author of Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman's Voice

"With passion and erudition, David Hartman argues for a version of Judaism that is at once faithful to the tradition and fitted to the requirements of modernity. He writes like Jacob wrestling with the angel, and the result, for the reader, is an exhilarating experience." --Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights; 1 edition (February 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580230113
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580230117
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on October 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is Rabbi Hartman's most important book. In it he presents his own Covenant theology. He has learned much and provides critiques of two of his great teachers in this work, Rabbi Joseph Dov Ber Soloveitchik and Yehoshua Leibowitz. Rabbi Hartman places the Covenant at Sinai at the center of Jewish experience. He tends to see this Covenant more in terms of the marital relation, than in the relation of parents and children. And this with the stress he places on responsibility and freedom for humanity. For Rabbi Hartman Torah and Torah learning are the true legacy of Sinai and the message and life- work of the people of Israel. This is a profound work and an inspiring one. And all those interested in thinking deeply about the people of Israel 's relation to G-d would do well to study this work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RN on August 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Rabbi David Hartman is so committed to exposing and trying to explain the dialectics in Judaism. One the one hand, there's G-d Who empowers his people with freedom and intellect, and on the other hand, G-d Who strikes fear and terror in the heart of man for seemingly no logical reason. David Hartman isn't a man of compromise. And by that I mean he doesn't compromise his rigorous, logical and intellectual challenges in order to blindly follow any denomination's party line.

This is the best book I've read on the subject. I've literally taken notes on every page and enjoy every page as a treat. I've already bought 3 copies for people I care about. I am (noticeably) enthusiastic about this work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Byrd on September 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So clear that even a Christian lay person (not clergy, not academic)could understand and enjoy reading it. While addressing and clarifying the issues of submission and personal authenticity in traditional Judaism, Dr. Hartman expanded my understanding of the same issues in contemporary Christian circles.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By writerami3 on May 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Rabbi David Hartman is a dying intellectual within Orthodox Judaism. So many rabbis have decided to abandon their hopes of ever creating a "Modern Orthodox" reality in America and worldwide. No longer are the great institutions like Yeshiva University, Rabbinical Council of America, and the like no longer defending their theology. In fact, many of their leadership officials have become defeatist about it and market it as an "approach" to becoming "more religious." Some have abandoned their previous stances causing friction in the congregations they serve.

With this reality, Rabbi Hartman is like a breath of fresh air. His service within Judaism of helping others that share in his vision of creating a positively identified Jewish community that rejects the old "horse and buggy" approach of coercion and guilty is greatly needed. On top of this, his insistence of bringing a "theological humility" that comforts other Jews from other movements is also needed.

Having said that, Rabbi Hartman's book is a summary of his theology. Quoting from other theorists as diverse as Erich Fromm and Spinoza (things one wouldn't find in Art Scroll), he begins affirm a positive approach to Orthodox Judaism that affirms both human potential and laity empowerment. No longer does the Jew need to fear modernity like they feared the Russian Czar.

Despite the nobility of the concept and the power of his personality, I found his book to be a little lofty and somewhat loose ended, but this book is essential to begin the dialogue.
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By Ivan L. Gold on June 3, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very important history. Very well written important basic text
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