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Judaism: A Way of Being Hardcover – November 24, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
His first major topic, separations, is in so many ways the essence of the Old Testament. I have always thought of separations quite literally: In Creation, each day was devoted to a separate task, and then the time of work was separated by the Sabbath, a day of rest; one birthday separates a child from adult responsibilities; the time for atonement concludes with a final day and hour of judgment for the coming year.
However, Dr. Gelernter extends the concept of separation with an original and visionary perspective reflecting an extensive range of knowledge. He discusses the parting (separation) of the Red Sea, the separation of the Torah scrolls, relishing the real and symbolic meanings. It was a leap and a revelation to follow his thinking, transforming my own appreciation of Jewish law and literature to a new level.
Philosophically and religiously, it is the section "Inward Pilgrimage" that goes to the heart of Judaism, the observance that Dr. Gelernter calls a "spiritual map." It is easy to see that this belief structure lends itself to a positive, moral, orderly, and purposeful life. One need not live a life style to understand and value it. It is a delight to share his joy in Judaism.
I have been privileged see the Dr. Gelernter's own creation, the Ashrei painting which is also the cover artwork this remarkable book. It was a very beautiful and meaningful choice; the Hebrew refers to a prayer passage, a fundamental belief in the Almighty that "Happy are they who dwell in Your house..."
Don't let that stop you from buying it! The book made me think long and hard, and I've read it multiple times. It's very interesting from the perspective of the "whys" of Jewish observance, the mindset behind the rules. For anyone who has struggled with rabbinical/talmudic style thought, you may enjoy Gelernter's Western, academic, yet true-believer take on things.
Herein the reader will learn about:
- The Creation
- Life's aims based upon the infinite ontological foundation (God)
- The Sabbath
- The Jewish High Holidays
- Numerous typographical interpretations of major events recorded in the Torah and Tenach (some interesting and fanciful interpretations, moreover many fall into the realm of eisegesis).
- Jewish moral law including application regarding countless realms from betrothals and funerals to civil law.
- A theology that declares that God can be abstract, indescribable, yet loving and personal.
In "Judaism" the reader finds an engaging and appealing book filled with potent truths about one of the world's most important religions. This volume is an excellent resource for Jewish people as well as Christians and other non-Jewish people looking to learn about one of history's most fascinating religious groups.
Student opines: "For non-Jews, or Jews who have no experience of observance, Gelernter's little volume offers a window into the living core of Jewish life. Look carefully at the lives of strictly observant Jews in the United States, and you will see the original that Gelernter seeks to portray. What emerges vividly from Gelernter's picture are the nuances, the small but definitive acts of devotion, that together make up the sum of religious Jewish life.Read more ›
The themes are developed using images, analogies, and scripture. Observance of the law is what ties the observant to his past, present, and future, and to "transcendence". Gelernter is passionate in his love for his faith. I would enjoy hearing him speak; however at the slower pace of the written word, he was at times too passionate, too poetic, and too enthusiastic. Image is piled on image, and allegory on metaphor fast and furious, until the entire structure collapses in a rapturous heap.
While I enjoyed the book and learned a great deal, I lost my connection to him in the appendices, specifically when Gelernter expounds on the flaws of Christianity (an area in which I do have first hand experience). From his perspective, meekness, turning the other check, reserving judgement, and failure to argue a point, are the attributes of misinformed Christian sissies. I'm left with the bitter aftertaste of a 5th theme, the arrogance of the True Believer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
difficult read so far
need more time to spend with the creative ideas presented
Excellent insights, written clearly with a deep love and commitment to JudaismPublished 18 months ago by Rodger Hammerstein
First, I should say what this book is not. It's not the place to start if you want an initial introduction to Judaism. Read morePublished 19 months ago by RaDadIndy
Professor Gelernter's book is an true feat of erudition and gives us a window into an extraordinary mind at the height of its powers. Read morePublished on October 4, 2012 by Jeff Goldfarb
What an education. I recommend every Evangelical Christian read this book. It is short, but loaded.
We need to understand what Zionism really is.
There is no doubt that David Gelernter's Judaism: A Way of being is an interesting book. He has many sharp and insightful things to say about being Jewish and the Jewish... Read morePublished on April 19, 2012 by Eric Maroney
Couldn't agree more with the excellent analyses of readers "Daboomer" and "Lemas Mitchell"
Gelernter has the zeal of a new convert, and goes overboard. Read more
Although this book has some lovely things to say about the relationship between Jewish law, Jews, and loving God, the author's sexism and homophobia just ruin a large portion of... Read morePublished on November 23, 2010 by Corinna365