Category: Jewish Thought


A lot of people selectively cite sources. People who try to come up with grand theories of Judaism: the theories tend to be based on one or two sources to the exclusion of everything that contradicts it. We saw some examples of Rabbi Avi Weiss doing that, too. In particular, saying “We follow the tradition of Rav Kook” except for the parts you don’t like. Here [with Rabbi David Hartman], his primary foundation paradigm is Abraham’s argument with God. But ignoring everything else. It’s a blind spot that people have. And I think everyone has that blind spot. The question is “What do you do with it when confronted with things that conflict?” Hartman already admitted that when you come across a text that conflicts with your moral sensibility, you reinterpret that text to fit your moral sensibility, as opposed to using conflicting texts to, maybe, refine a better, more nuanced halakhic sensitivity. Grand theories are where, I think, people get in trouble. When you say “This is the core thing of Judaism”, but what about all these other things in the Torah that don’t fit? “Ah, we’ll reinterpret it to make it fit”, but then you’re not really following God as much as following either yourself or what you think God really meant. Both of which are incredibly presumptuous.

Rabbi Josh Yuter, “Halakhic Process 26 – R. David Hartman and Religious Individualism”, Yutopia Podcast #121 (3 November 2013).

Judaism cannot just be a commitment to the Jewish people, love of Israel or even just ritual observance. As important as each is, none will ensure Jewish survival as much as belief — belief in the God of the Torah and in the Torah of God.

Dennis Prager, “No Faith, No Jewish Future”, The Jewish Journal (8-14 November 2013), 7.