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The God Who Hates Lies: Confronting and Rethinking Jewish Tradition [Kindle Edition]

Charlie Buckholtz David Hartman
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Covenant & Conscience—A Groundbreaking Journey to the Heart of Halakha

“Anyone curious about the Jewish way of life, yet dissatisfied with much of contemporary Jewish theology and practice—repelled, perhaps, by the cheap and vulgar apologetics of those who seek to justify and sustain some of the tradition’s systematic immoralities, who smugly deny expression to any doubt or uncertainty, claiming a monopoly on absolute truth—is invited to join me on this pilgrimage.”

—from the Introduction

In this deeply personal look at the struggle between commitment to Jewish religious tradition and personal morality, Dr. David Hartman, the world’s leading Modern Orthodox Jewish theologian, probes the deepest questions at the heart of what it means to be a human being and a Jew.

Dr. Hartman draws on a lifetime of learning, teaching and experience as a social activist to present an intellectual framework for examining covenantal theology as it is applied to religious life. As much an expression of his impassioned commitment to Jewish law as it is testament to a lifetime of intellectual questioning and courage, this bold examination of the halakhic system offers fresh insights into Judaism and the quest for spiritual nourishment.

Editorial Reviews


“David Hartman inhabits the places of the impossible—where truths collide—with courage. A traditional and halakhic Judaism will emerge from its clash with the ethical more faithful to its essence.” —Rabbi Shira Milgrom, Congregation Kol Ami, White Plains, New York “A masterful, passionate confessional of an encounter in one man’s soul between traditional Judaism and his deepest moral sensibilities. Whether or not you agree with Rabbi Hartman’s vision, this book will pursue you long after you have read it.” —Yehuda (Jerome) Gellman, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev “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 “This is the book from David Hartman we have been waiting for! Written with passion, clarity, and scholarship … [it] is sure to provoke a lively conversation on the nature of Jewish law, the State of Israel and what it means to live in a covenanted relationship with God.” —Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove, PhD, Park Avenue Synagogue; editor, Jewish Theology in Our Time: A New Generation Explores the Foundations and Future of Jewish Belief

About the Author

Dr. David Hartman (z"l), one of the most respected theologians of the twenty-first century, founded the Shalom
Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. His widely acclaimed books include A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional
, winner of the National Jewish Book Award, and A Heart of Many Rooms: Celebrating the Many
Voices within Judaism
(both Jewish Lights), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.

Product Details

  • File Size: 452 KB
  • Print Length: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing (April 28, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004YF1TFW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #434,444 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much to agree with November 30, 2011
Rabbi David Hartman, founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, is widely known and respected as a courageous and acclaimed author and speaker. The God Who Hates Lies, his latest work for Jewish Lights Publications, is in many ways the most personal book that he has yet written, and potentially - in certain Orthodox circles - his most controversial.
Hartman has clearly reached a point in his life where he both feels comfortable enough and determined enough to challenge some of the nostrums of his orthodox upbringing and early rabbinic career in the light of his life experience and broader education. It is moving to read his struggles and growing distance from some elements of classical Jewish tradition and teaching, and admirable to discern how he has found a way of living with the many contradictions that surround him while keeping his integrity intact.
The God Who hates Lies is divided into six chapters, preceded by an Introduction, subtitled "What Planet are You From?": A Yeshiva Boy's Pilgrimage into Philosophy, History and Reality, that gives a heavy hint as to the approach which Hartman will take: the chapters are Halakhic Spirituality: Living in the Presence of God; Toward a God-Intoxicated Halakha; Feminism and Apologetics: Lying in the Presence of God; Biology or Covenant? Conversion and the Corrupting Influence of Gentile Seed; Where did Modern Orthodoxy Go Wrong? The Mistaken Halakhic Presumptions of Rabbi Soloveitchik; The God Who Hates Lies: Choosing Life in the Midst of Uncertainty.
There is much in this book that Progressive Jews will applaud, not least the courage and integrity with which Hartman expresses himself - qualities lacking in some other high profile Orthodox spokesmen who shall remain nameless - but there should be no triumphalism over his challenges and questioning, for this is not a man about to embrace a Jewish alternative, rather one who is trying to save the form of Judaism he loves from a lingering death.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
David Hartman points out that Modern Orthodox Judaism has in many respects been frozen in suspended animation, refusing to budge and grow despite moral imperatives and logic, resulting in many people being harmed. A prime example of this phenomenon is the failure of Modern Orthodox leaders to address the problem of the aguna, the wife whose husband refuses to give her a Jewish divorce. The rabbis refuse to resolve this problem because of an ancient, now no longer true, presumption about women. I describe this issue, which deserves extensive discussion in an article about what Hartman considers "Rabbi Soloveitchik's Mistake," which can be found, among other sites, in my website at [...]

The reason for the stultification of Judaism is the commitment of leading Orthodox rabbis to now outdated presumptions about human nature and their refusal to recognize the right of modern rabbis to develop creative solutions to modern problems. Jews, they insist, must accept illogical commands based, as Rabbi Soloveitchik claims, borrowing a phrase from the nineteenth century Protestant Soren Kierkegaard, on a "leap of faith."

The yeshiva world seems to worship halakha, the Jewish legal system, rather than God. While the Torah teaches love of neighbor and even stresses love of a stranger 36 times, these rabbis focus on halakha. They teach that Jews must realize that generations decline in intellect. The further Jews are removed from Mount Sinai the weaker their intellect is and the less able they are to know the truth. Thus Jews dare not reject the views of former rabbis, and must unthinkingly accept what they say.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As usual, Hartman is splendid May 21, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Other reviewers have done a good job summarizing the book, so I'll address a couple of other points.

Hartman comes from an extremely serious Orthodox background. His mastery of traditional Judaism was quite thorough, and no one can argue with his devotion to Orthodox practice and ritual in his early life. His movement away from traditional Orthodoxy came as he ministered to his congregations and began to see how stagnant and unresponsive halacha has become to the realities of today's world. Hartman is one of the examples of Jews that ultra-Orthodox claim don't exist: educated in Orthodox Judaism, once committed to it, successful outside of it, still committed to Judaism, healthy and functional.

I found myself responding to the book with yes, yes, exactly, as Dr. Hartman put into words the reservations I've had in regard to Orthodox views of halacha. As usual, Dr. Hartman manages to reach one's heart and mind, together. My only complaint is that at the end he repeats himself. In fact, I turned back a couple of pages to see if I'd already read them. A little better editing at the end would be good, but it won't diminish the book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Coach
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
David Hartman is to be commended for raising these critical questions for the committed Jewish community of today. Other reviewers have done a fine job of outlining what the book is about and how Hartman challenges the concept that Halakha (Jewish law) is eternal and unchangeable. Halakha is based on concepts from the Torah and decisions by the rabbis in the Mishnah and Talmud. Many of their decisions were based on temporal values and assumptions which may have been true/pertinent to people of the time but are extremely outdated and irrelevant in the modern era. While different streams of Orthodoxy are fighting hard to resist any change, there are many exciting changes which are happening which suggest that the role of women will change drastically in the Orthodox world of the future:
1. Minyanim (prayer groups of 10 men or more) are popping up in major metropolitan centers in the US and Israel where there is still separate seating (some with the mechitza- a wall or divider which is placed between the men's and women's sections, and some without) but women are granted a greater role in leading prayer (Kabbalat Shabbat, Psukei D'Zimra, Torah Service) and read Torah, Haftarah, come up for aliyot, and also serve as gabayot.
2. Observant mainstream Orthodox Jews in Israel are bypassing the rabbinate when it comes to marriage and other life cycle events. They are choosing to be married by their own rabbis, and are not registering with the Rabbinate thereby having a greater say in who owns the tradition. These couples have the rights of common law spouses according to Israeli law.
3. Natan Slifkin has authored a number of books which touch on Judaism and science. Rabbi Slifkin has turned away from the organized Orthodox world and self-describes himself as post-Hareidi.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book by a very insightful rabbi
This book is an incredible summary of the work of Rabbi David Hartman. He reviews much of his philosophy and puts it into modern perspective. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bruce Wolf
5.0 out of 5 stars compelling!
clear, powerful, truth-talking from a man who lived a life of intellectual and social engagement- Buckholtz helps Hartman's ideas sing!
Published 13 months ago by R. Perelis
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, Insightful, a must read!
Incredibly brilliant and thoughtful work. It shines a bright light on today's most important and difficult issues facing Jews in America and all over the world. A must read.
Published 16 months ago by m buckholtz
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and thought-provoking
As a cultural (as opposed to religious) Jew, I appreciate the author's exploration of religious tradition, modern interpretations thereof, and the conflicts between them.
Published on November 10, 2011 by Shani
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book / Horrible Main Title
This is an excellent book with a poor and misleading main title. It is mostly about halakha (Jewish Law), orthodox Judaism and issues the author has with how these interact. Read more
Published on September 24, 2011 by Michael Brochstein
3.0 out of 5 stars Let there be dialogue!
The upshot of it is that Orthodoxy is deluding itself to think that the rabbis were anything more than a product of their times; and that apologetics never have, and never will get... Read more
Published on July 12, 2011 by Tzvi Berkson
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