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A Heart of Many Rooms: Celebrating the Many Voices within Judaism

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1580231565
ISBN-10: 158023156X
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Heart of Many Rooms is a passionate, eloquent collection of essays that praise the diversity of Jewish experiences. Philosopher David Hartman's work is based on his conviction that "[T]he rebirth of the Jewish people in its homeland challenges us to articulate a sober and responsible religious anthropology capable of energizing Jews to assume responsibility for a total Jewish society." Education regarding the variety of religious experiences within Judaism, Hartman says, will equip Jews for assuming that responsibility. To hasten that process of education, Hartman describes various Jewish experiences and brings them into dialogue with one another--orthodox and reform, religious and secular, skeptical and faithful. Although some readers may take issue with the breadth of Hartman's inclusiveness, most will agree with his basic idea of what it means to be a Jew. "My picture of a genuinely religious person is one who is not averse to getting hands dirty," Hartman writes, "one who does not await divine intervention but who experiences God's presence in efforts to discharge the responsibilities he or she feels for the welfare of a total society." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In a series of eloquent essays, some published 30 years ago, Hartman (A Living Covenant) celebrates the great diversity that exists within contemporary Judaism. Raised as a Torah-observant Jew, Hartman learned from his early religious teachings that all human beings are loved because they are created in God's image. Early in his rabbinic career, Hartman began seeking ways to reconcile what he saw as the exclusionist tendencies of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, secular Zionists and non-Israelis. Most of the essays collected here focus on the author's "continuing belief in the possibility and necessity of building educational bridges between different sectors of the population in Israel and throughout the Jewish world." In a section on "Family and Mitzvah Within an Interpretive Tradition," he contrasts what he calls two different approaches to Jewish spiritualityATorah and secular spiritualityAand explores the great joy that Torah study brings to Judaism and to the Jewish family. In another section, "Educating Towards Inclusiveness," Hartman advocates creating a shared language for education in Israel and among the Diaspora. Other essays in the collection include a paean to Abraham Joshua Heschel, "A heroic witness to religious pluralism"; an "Open letter to a Reform rabbi"; reflections on the conversion law; and "Zionism and the continuity of Judaism." In each of his essays, Hartman's incisive wit, passionate heart and loving soul animate his desire for religious diversity and understanding.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Celebrating the Many Voices Within Judaism
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158023156X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580231565
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2.5 x 22.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,355,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed Rabbi Hartman's latest book. He has a very keen eye for the contemporary Jewish situation. Both philosophically and sociologically. As a current Israeli resident, I can attest that Rabbi Hartman has a fabulous grasp of the current situation in Israel. It was a pleasure reading the book. I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in contemporary Jewish philosophy. And for someone interested in reading someone who is not afraid of posing tough questions about the Jewish situation today.
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By A Customer on August 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
David Hartman has written another very important book that deals directly with the centrals issues concerning the developement of a modern relevant Judaism. He is courageous and bold as he confronts the problems of strict orthodoxy while staying firmly committed to traditional halachic Judaism. Hartman provides hope for a new pluralistic approach to Judaism that is so needed in Israel today.
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Format: Paperback
Most (but not all) of the essays in this excellent book have something to do with Zionism or with relations between different religious streams (mostly, but not entirely, within Judaism). Hartman was a moderate religious Zionist in politics and a moderate Orthodox Jew in religion. Some of the more interesting points:

*In the introduction, Hartman compares Biblical with Talmudic Judaism. In biblical religion, gratification and punishment are immediate. By contrast, the Talmud states that in this world there is no reward or punishment for observing commandments.

*In his essay on "The Joy of Torah", Hartman explains not just Jewish law generally, but some of the more obscure Jewish laws and legends. For example, one text states that "even what a faithful discipline would in the future say in the presence of his master [was] communicated to Moses at Sinai." What does this mean? That every creative moment flows out of the original creative moment at Sinai. Similarly, in a later essay Hartman explains the rabbinic comparison of anger to idolatry, writing that rage precludes the appreciation of a reality beyond oneself- "the existential condition necessary for encountering God."

*In his "Letter to A Reform Rabbi" Hartman, an Orthodox rabbi, suggests that Israel would actually benefit from vibrant Conservative and Reform movements. He writes that because Reform Judaism is a non-halakhic movement (i.e. not bound by traditional Jewish law), it can serve the broader cause of Judaism in other ways- for example, by "free[ing] Jews from their embarrassment in talking about God", by criticizing the idolatrous equation of Judaism with national loyalty, and by focusing on the broader values underlying halacha.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the classic books by Rabbi David Hartman. He gives a full explanation of his desire for a total Judaism, not merely many tribes of Jews barely hanging together. Rabbi Hartman was certainly a visionary, who saw the need for cooperation and respect among all Jews. It is well worth readying and digesting its content.
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