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What Do Jews Believe?: The Spiritual Foundations of Judaism Paperback – January 23, 1996
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Perhaps the best part of this book is its conclusion, a tzavaah, or ethical will, written as an open letter to his children. In it, he quotes a letter from a mother to her child, written while they were living in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940, before they both were murdered by the Nazis. This letter offers an extraordinarily persuasive and poignant summary of what exactly makes a Jew a Jew: "Judaism, my child, is the struggle to bring down God upon earth, a struggle for the sanctification of the human heart. This struggle your people wages not with physical force but with spirit and by constant striving for truth and justice. So, do you understand, my child, how we are distinct from others and wherein lies the secret of our existence on earth?" To these words, Ariel adds a moving piece of advice to his own children, and to his readers: "Remember, your life is like a book. Write in it what you want to be known about you." --Michael Joseph Gross
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The aim of the book is to give an overview of Jewish religious doctrines, in all of their complexity and variations. And they ARE quite complex and varied. The author devotes a lot of space to discussing the various ways that Jews have understood their religion throughout history. He addresses the many doctrinal debates and competing perspectives within Judaism; and appears to do so fairly evenhandedly (though, again, I am not really in a position to judge his objectivity). The book is packed full of information. In fact, it almost has too much information (if that is possible). It's very informative; but it can be rather dense at times. I often found myself having to re-read certain paragraphs in order to fully digest the information. This is not light, casual reading for someone who is only mildly curious about Judaism. I would recommend it only for those who have a strong interest in the subject.
But it IS very informative. I feel that I have learned a lot about Judaism from reading it; so I'm glad I got the book. On the other hand, it's so densely packed with information that my brain just can't seem to process it all into an orderly framework. I'm still not quite sure I fully understand what Jews believe. But I know more than I did.
David Ariel has written this volume outlining basic Jewish beliefs. The author asserts that there is a rubric of "sacred myths" that unites all Jews, and that Judaism is a set of evolving beliefs about God and life. This book lays out Jewish views on creation, humanity, ethics, good and evil, the afterlife, the Torah, and many other topics. Also discussed is the Jewish view of the Messiah and how Judaism differs from Christianity.
"What Do Jews Believe" is a good, not-too-long, not-too-short volume that should satisfy non-Jews who would like to gain a basic understanding of Judaism.
The author used a nice format for describing each section that I caught onto after about the third time he started a new topic. He would start with the oldest concepts and discuss as these evolved over time during different developmental times of Jewish thought. I'm not sure I can remember them all, but it was something like this, age of the Talmud (as it was written by Moses), times of the Priests (while the 1st and 2nd Temple existed), then when the 2nd temple was destroyed and no more sacrifices could be made Jewish thought was regulated by the Rabbis and the most popular of them established large and influential schools to study the Talmud and interpret it to the people, often coming up with new thought and conflicting opinion. The Middle Ages brought a time of acceptance of some of the concepts of the Arab schools, Greek Philosophy, and even some Christian thinking on God. Then the period of "Modern" (1800's) thought is covered as scholars started to use a more scientific process to study word structure, archeology, and critical thought to try to determine Biblical (Talmudic) accuracy. Then finally, a description of current thinking from the different Jewish groups Orthodox, Reformed, Ameican, etc. Also, included are discussions of the school of mystic Jewish thought, Kaballa, which arose in Spain and was influential in several periods.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quality book in fine condition delivered in a timely way. Thanks.Published 11 months ago by thomas e.
Informative Book. This is the first book that I am reading about Judaism. My mom is Jewish and my dad of another faith. Growing up I thought my dad was a believer in his faith. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Steven Haack
Beautiful book, well care for. I want to thank the seller.Published 12 months ago by Elizabeth Santiago
very interesting and informative - gives me a very good picture of the background of my faith and the roots of ChristianityPublished 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great book. It covers the subject pretty well. I would recommend this for book lovers and people who enjoy light reading.Published on January 3, 2013 by Fresh
Timely ! Came just as advertised and saved a lot of money. Used it immediately and the book was very menaingful and informativePublished on November 7, 2011 by V. Badner
This book is excellent for those who wish to understand the heart of Judaism. For the longest time, those who are not jews have greatly misunderstood the beliefs and practices of... Read morePublished on March 17, 2008 by Suren P. Pandya