- Publisher: Urim Publications
- Available in: Hardcover
- ISBN: 978-9657108727
- Published: October 1, 2005
Crisis, Covenant and Creativity deals with some of the most widely discussed issues in contemporary Jewish religious life.
- How do religious people deal with tolerance when they are convinced that their religious beliefs carry the truth and that others are mistaken?
- To what extent should the modern application of “Halachic decision making” be influenced by existential wonder and the religious mission and philosophy of the Jewish people?
- How does Halachic living lead to a greater awareness of the mystery and beauty of life?
- As the search for Jewish Identity becomes more and more complex, what is the meaning of Jewish authenticity?
In today’s world, public discourse and exchange of ideas — and indeed, ideas themselves — have become increasingly shallow and simplistic, while, at the same time, more polarized and sectarian than ever. In this context, the thought and writing of Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo comes as a welcome change. In his work, Crisis, Covenant and Creativity, Rabbi Cardozo addresses modern philosophical and theological issues with both clarity and depth.
The language and writing style of the book are coherent and convincing, and the arguments are clearly developed and accessible to the layman. At the same time, the ideas expressed have weight and depth; they are worth pondering, and deserve serious consideration. Those who enjoy thinking deeply about the meaning of religion will appreciate this book.
One of the main subjects of the book is the role of halacha and of mitzvot in shaping a meaningful life. Rabbi Cardozo develops a philosophy of halacha in which the role and function of mitzvot is to impel us to perform certain actions. Those actions, in turn, are meant to affect our spirit and our psyche, infusing our life with purpose and meaning. In addition, the acts of the halacha function as signposts, continuously pointing us to the wondrous and Divine concealed by, and lying beyond, our mundane existence.
My personal favorite essay, Tolerance and the Jewish Tradition, provides a clear definition of tolerance, crucial for the modern age. A truly tolerant person possesses a personal conscience, and holds clear and strong convictions. At the same time, he is aware of the reality of divided truths that is, that there is no one approach which holds the monopoly on all truth. In addition, when he argues, he disagrees with sensitivity to the feelings of the other.
The essay on Shabbat develops into an argument for living a fully integrated cohesive spiritual life. The essay on anti-Semitism provides an interesting and ultimately convincing critique on the nature of modern Jewish identity. All in all, Rabbi Cardozo argues for living an authentic, fully realized religious life, one in which religion and one’s relationship to God is experienced as the center of one’s existence. His well-educated approach and clear thinking make reading this book a worthwhile experience. –Mali Brofsky, Lookstein Book Digest
Lopes Cardozo marshals his sources effectively, almost brilliantly, bringing Cardinal Newman, Tolstoy, and Sartre, in addition to a vast array of Jewish thinkers, to bear on some deep philosophical problems. His topics are varied, including the importance of religious routine in everyday life, the role of miracles in a rational world, and the distinction between ethical and ritual imperatives in a religious life.
…what Lopes Cardozo actually has to say is always true to the tradition, often original, and sometimes even radical. In fact, many Orthodox readers who lack a modern sensibility may well reject Lopes Cardozo as excessively tolerant of nontraditional ideas and excessively open to dialogue with non-Orthodox Jews….
This is a thinker who has much to say but few who will end up listening.
—Jonathan Groner, jbooks.com