JEWISH LAW AS REBELLION: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage
by Nathan Lopes Cardozo
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Published by Urim Publications
In this remarkable and highly controversial book, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo suggests that Jewish Law must be seen as a discipline of resistance and courage. He pleads for the urgent return to authentic religiosity, which by now has been compromised by nearly all who claim to be religious. Rebelling against the rabbinical establishment, Rabbi Cardozo takes it to task for failing to liberate Halacha from its stagnancy and confinement. With ground-breaking suggestions, he shows how to make Jewish Law once again relevant to our modern society and to the State of Israel.
Out of love for Judaism and all human beings Rabbi Cardozo provokes, challenges, annoys and disturbs his readers, asking them to resist the corrupting effect of the ordinary and often hollow motions of today’s religious life. While focusing on Judaism and Jewish Law, much of what Rabbi Cardozo argues applies equally to other religions as well as to secularism.
A book that may trigger a new era of genuine introspection, laying the foundations for a better world in which the Divine will stand at the center of humanity.
About the Author
Nathan Lopes Cardozo (b. 1946), hailing from the Portuguese-Spanish Jewish community in Amsterdam, is a philosopher, New Age halachist, author of 13 books, and lecturer in Jewish communities, yeshivot and universities in Israel and abroad. He studied for 12 years in Ultra Orthodox yeshivot but, after intensive studies in Jewish and general philosophy, carved out his own unprecedented approach to understanding Judaism. He is the founder and dean of the David Cardozo Academy in Jerusalem and its think tank, which focus on finding new halachic and philosophical approaches to dealing with the crisis of religion and identity among Jews and non-Jews, including in the State of Israel. Rabbi Cardozo is known for his originality and fearlessness when presenting his controversial insights into Judaism. His ideas are widely debated internationally via books and social media.
Praise for Jewish Law as Rebellion
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a unique intellectual presence in the rabbinical world today. His new book raises profound questions that disturb our complacency and demand the attention of our hearts and minds. To think with him and the challenges he raises is one of the great experiences of modern Jewish thought.
–Professor Susannah Heschel
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is that rare entity, a seeker who is unafraid to challenge accepted ideas and norms. His Jewish Law as Rebellion perfectly embodies his own engagement with tradition. It will inspire any who struggle with Judaism’s most basic principles.
– Professor James Kugel
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo has written a challenging, even provocative book, inviting us to restore the iconoclasm with which Judaism was born as a religion of protest against the status quo. Agree or disagree, you will find yourself thinking hard and deep about the current state of Jewish law and life, and that makes it a work well worth reading – a new chapter in one of the great Jewish traditions: the dignity of dissent.
–Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a rebel fighting for a most worthy cause – to reinvigorate Judaism and infuse it with real spiritual context. He inveighs against the over-codification of Halachah, a sort of pietistic OCD syndrome, which stifles the true spirit of Judaism. He calls for a return to the Talmud and its sources, with its openness, its bewildering variety of opinions, its multifaceted character, its liberality, and its halachic flexibility. This book is the powerful plea of a genuinely pious Jew deeply concerned for our Jewish future. The problems and challenges he presents are real and urgent, requiring creative rethinking on the part of our religious authorities. He is to be admired and congratulated for his courage and the clarity of his vision.
–Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber
What this exceptional book offers is a rationale for halakhic practice as a discipline of resistance – resistance to the corrupting effect of the ordinary, to the hollowing-out of human behaviour and human awareness that a fast-paced and feverish culture produces. It is full of insights that will challenge and inspire Jews and non-Jews alike: a reminder that Orthodoxy of whatever kind is empty if it does not arise from the deep, radical awareness of the divine imperative to be amazed and thankful in the face of every thing and every experience. Immensely enriching.
–Dr. Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, former Archbishop of Canterbury