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The assimilation of Judaism: Heschel and the 'category mistake'.

 We may accept or reject [Judaism], but should not distort it.
 --Abraham Joshua Heschel (1)

THIS YEAR (2007) MARKS THE CENTENARY OF THE birth of my mentor, Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972). In the years before his death, Heschel had an increasingly pessimistic view of the future of American Judaism. For example, in his autobiography, Richard Rubenstein quotes Heschel as saying to him: "When I think of what our people have accumulated over the centuries that nobody will ever know about, it seems like a second holocaust. Hitler destroyed our people. Now we let their spirit die." (2)

Like the Jewish theologian Eliezer Berkovits and others, for Heschel the Holocaust demonstrated the spiritual and moral failure of western culture, particularly the philosophies that emerged from the French and German Enlightenment. (3) Consequently, Heschel derided the Jewish "plate lickers of non-Jewish culture," detached from the wellsprings of Jewish tradition who were "blinded by the light of Western civilization" and who could not therefore "appreciate the value of the small fire of our eternal light." (4) For Heschel, the spiritual and moral resources of Jewish tradition, especially east European Jewish tradition, offer not only an authentic foundation for American Jewish life and thought, but also a wisdom-tradition "that the world is hungry to hear," and that it needs to hear, so that the wisdom of the Jewish past can address the perplexities of the present and the challenges of the future.

Throughout his writings, Heschel affirmed the unique and vital nature of Jewish religious thought. (5) He considered attempts--medieval and modern--to forge a synthesis between Jewish thinking and that of the dominant culture to be a mistake, inevitably leading to a distortion of authentic Jewish thinking, to the creation of a grotesque hybrid. (6) Rather than applying the universalistic approach of Western thinking to particularly Jewish issues, he advocated the application of a particularly authentic Jewish way of thinking both to Jewish and universal social, ethical and spiritual issues. (7) In his view, a form of Judaism rooted in foreign soil was a distortion, a fraud. "It is a situation of 'the voice is the voice of Esau and the hands are the hands of Jacob ...'; physically we are Jews, but spiritually, a fearful assimilation is raging. Jewish leaders talk about social and political problems with the voice of Esau, when the world is hungry instead to hear a new spiritual word in Jewish terminology. A Jewish approach to problems." (8)

"This I surely know," wrote Heschel, "the source of creative Jewish thinking cannot be found in the desire to compare and to reconcile Judaism with a current doctrine." (9)

Voice of Esau

Like Solomon Schechter, the great Jewish theologian earlier in the 20th century, Heschel claimed that Judaism is a way of thought, as well as a way of life. Like Schechter, he was concerned that Jewish "doing" should emerge from authentic Jewish "thinking," that not only the assimilation of the Jews, but also the assimilation of Judaism was "raging." (10) Such a situation, in Heschel's view, was addressed in a statement by the 19th century Chasidic master, Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk, the subject of his last books: "It's bad enough to be in a situation of exile and alienation ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], galut). But, it's even worse to be in such a state and not even to be aware of it." (11)

Consistent with the views of Schechter, Heschel and others, sociological and historical studies of contemporary American Judaism reveal that American Jewry has forged a form of Jewish life and thought in which foreign and even inimical ideas have become the foundation of Jewish identity and self-understanding, in which the "voice is the voice of Esau and the hands are the hands of Jacob." Or, as philosophers might put it, American Judaism rests upon a "category mistake," meaning committing a semantic or ontological error by ascribing to an entity features it could not properly have. (12) In other words, American Jewry is ascribing to Judaism characteristics that it could not possibly have, thereby furthering the assimilation of the Jews and subverting the continuity of Judaism.

A variety of ideas rooted in the French and German Enlightenment and elsewhere has come to dominate American Judaism. These include: the "sovereign self," individual moral autonomy, secularism, a universalistic liberal morality, and others. Such ideas have not only infiltrated, but have come to characterize much of American Judaism. In addition, ideas allegedly rooted in rabbinic and kabbalistic sources, although distorted beyond recognition in their meaning and message, now claim legitimacy as historically pivotal ideas of the Jewish religion. A prime example is the shibboleth of contemporary American Jewry: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (tikkun olam, lit. mending the world). The nature of the "category mistake" that currently characterizes American Judaism is the subject of what follows.

Enlightened Irony

A major goal of the French and German Enlightenment in the 18th century was the subversion of religious authority and tradition. It is singularly ironic, therefore, that various forms of modern liberal religion embraced Enlightenment ideas to provide a foundation for their beliefs and practices. This is especially true of contemporary American Judaism. American Jewry largely defines itself by an ideology that aimed at the subversion of Christianity, as well as of Judaism. Among other things, the Enlightenment wanted to replace religious obligations with individual autonomy, religious law and ritual with rational thought and a universalistic morality, particularistic interests with universalistic concerns.

A leading Enlightenment thinker was the great 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who knew little about Judaism. He had read the philosophical works of Jews, such as Baruch Spinoza (17th century) and Moses Mendelssohn (18th century). Both depicted the essence of Judaism as law. This led Kant to the conclusion that Judaism was at best an amoral and at worst an immoral religion. Consequently, in one of his lesser known works, Kant called for the "euthanasia of Judaism." A religion of law, devoid of ethics, in his view had no raison d'etre. For Kant, Judaism is such a religion. (13)

In his philosophy of ethics, Kant identified basic criteria for ethical action. For Kant, ethical axioms must be universal, categorical (i.e., "the categorical imperative"), and they must express individual will and autonomy. As free autonomous acts, ethical actions cannot represent obedience to an externally imposed law. (14) As a religion demanding obedience to particularistic rather than universal legal imperatives, therefore, Judaism could not, in this view, be moral.

Distorted Ethics

Moving from 18th to 19th century Germany, we encounter the work of the prominent liberal Protestant theologian, biblical scholar and anti-Semite, Julius Wellhausen. Like many theologians of his time and place, Wellhausen sought the "essence of Christianity," i.e., the religion of Jesus. Because Jesus was a Jew, Wellhausen also found himself compelled to inquire into the essence of Judaism.

According to Wellhausen, the religion of biblical Israel was established by the "classical" or "literary" prophets such as Isaiah and Micah, who introduced the idea of universalistic ethical monotheism. In this view, these prophets were radical, revolutionary, religious individualists who rejected particularism, nationalism, legalism and a focus on ritual observance. For Wellhausen, the essence of biblical Judaism, epitomized by the teachings of the classical prophets as he understood them, had been corrupted by the legalism, particularism and ritualism of the biblical priesthood. It had been further distorted by the teachings of the Pharisees and subsequent rabbinic tradition. However, claims Wellhausen, it was restored by Jesus and his teachings. (15) Thus, in Wellhausen's view, Jesus was the heir and restorer of the true religion of biblical Israel. Just as the rabbis had distorted the teachings of "prophetic Judaism," so later on did the Church, particularly the Catholic Church, distort the teachings of Jesus through legalism, faulty biblical exegesis and ritualism. What was now required, claimed Wellhausen, was a return to the religion of Jesus and the classical prophets.

Despite Kant's call for the "euthanasia of Judaism" and despite Wellhausen's blatant anti-Semitic tendencies, early liberal Judaism, as it emerged in Germany and later in America, adapted many of the views of Kant and Wellhausen, and incorporated them into its understanding of the nature of Judaism. Like Wellhausen, liberal Judaism identified the essence of Judaism with "prophetic Judaism." As such, it rejected the binding nature of Jewish law, and all "non-essential" theological ideas and religious practices. Claiming that universalistic ethics is the essence of Judaism, Reform Jewish thinkers identified the ethics of "prophetic Judaism" with Kantian ethics. Like Kantian ethics, it stressed individual moral autonomy, antinomianism, rationalism and universalism. (16)

This approach led to the positing of a "Judeo-Christian ethic." Christians embraced this notion because they wanted to demonstrate how Christian ethics emerged from the "prophetic ethics" of biblical Judaism, and to claim the legitimacy of Christianity as the heir to the "prophetic Judaism" of biblical Israel. Jews embraced this notion because showing that Judaism and Christianity are essentially the same when it comes to ethics--the essence of both religions--would further the cause of Jewish Emancipation by demonstrating that Jews had more in common with Christians than they had differences.

The problem, however, is that there is "Jewish ethics" and there is "Christian ethics," but they are not the same. There is no Judeo-Christian ethics. The presuppositions and ethical postures of each differs from the other. (17)

Promiscuous usage

In America, unlike in Europe, Jews did not have to fight for fundamental civil and political rights, i.e., for political "Emancipation." They felt comfortable, therefore, expanding their activities to include universalistic ethics in the fight for "social justice." In America, Jewish ethics, was not only theoretically universalistic, but also programmatically universal, moving beyond the boundaries of specifically Jewish social issues. (18)

The influx of east European Jews to America around the turn of the 20th century introduced communistic and socialistic ideas that were also identified with the universalistic, cosmopolitan ideas of "prophetic Judaism." (19) It is not surprising to find that by the early 1980s, most "American Jews had been raised with the understanding that liberalism or political radicalism constituted the very essence of Judaism, that all the rest--the rituals, liturgy, communal organizations--were outdated, vestigial trappings for a religion with a great moral message embodied in liberalism." (20)

By the dawn of the 21st century, the idea of individual autonomy, coupled with American "rugged individualism," led to a "privatized Judaism." Jewish identity now became a matter of individual acquired taste that can change from person to person, and from week to week. In this approach, characteristic of American religion in general and of American Judaism in particular, religious belief, observance and identity become manifestations of "the sovereign self," i.e., the contemporary version of Kant's individual autonomy. Judaism becomes a matter of "whatever works for you" at any given point in time. (21)

"Prophetic Judaism" has been further metamorphosed into tikkun olam, "mending the world." In many Jewish circles, tikkun olam has become synonymous with Judaism. The promiscuous contemporary usage of this term has identified it with an enormous range of social programs, artistic projects and a plethora of political causes. As one sociologist put it, most American Jews "tend to look to social action and universalistic principles of tikkun olam as the sustained mission of Jews and Judaism in modern times, selecting from traditional Jewish rituals and behaviors those elements which may contribute to a meaningful (but episodic) Jewish experience.'" (22)

Whereas earlier generations of modern Jews consciously attempted to demonstrate that Jewish ideas and values are not incompatible with those of the dominant culture, striving to forge a synthesis between them, contemporary American Jews have attained what has been termed a state of "coalescence." Jews, in other words, are no longer even conscious of the possible difference between Jewish and non-Jewish values adapted from the general culture, i.e., American culture. Non-Jewish values are embraced as "Jewish" values, without any awareness of their origin. Various authentic Jewish values that do not coalesce with those imported from outside are considered "un-Jewish." Similarly, beliefs and values of other Americans (especially Protestant Evangelicals) that do not correlate with their worldview are considered "un-American."

Threats to continuity

When coalescence is complete, the resulting merged messages or texts are perceived not as being American and Jewish values side by side, but as being a unified text that is identified as authoritative Judaism. In coalescing American (liberal) values and Jewish values, many American Jews--including some who are very knowledgeable and active in Jewish life--no longer separate or are conscious of the separation between the origin of these texts. (23)

As most contemporary Jewish sociologists have affirmed, "coalescence," "the sovereign self" and similar ideas pose an enormous threat to the future of Jewish continuity. Recent demographic studies of American Jewry verify this claim. (24)

From a sociological point of view, "prophetic Judaism" and its spin-offs culminating in "coalescence," were developed to further Jewish integration in the post-Emancipation era. However, as sociologist Charles Liebman already wrote in the early 1970s, "more than ever before, the values of integration and survival are mutually contradictory." (25) With particular reference to universalistic ethics and political liberalism in the 1960s, Liebman observed that Jewish religious values are not unambiguously liberal; "they are folk-oriented rather than universalistic, ethnocentric rather than cosmopolitan." (26) Writing in the 1990s, he observed that liberalism "fails as a strategy for Jewish survival because it lacks the resources to justify Jewish cohesion and particularism." (27)

"Prophetic Judaism" was neither the Judaism of the prophets nor of the rabbis. Wellhausen's views have been thoroughly discredited by subsequent biblical scholarship. (28) For the talmudic rabbis, the prophets did not subvert biblical law and ritual, but advocated its observance. (29) The prophets were not the revolutionary designers of Judaism, as Wellhausen claimed, but guardians of a tradition in which they served as a vital link between their predecessors and their successors--the rabbis.

As biblical scholarship has demonstrated, rather than advocating a universalistic ethic, the prophets were fierce advocates and defenders of the national aspirations of the people of Israel. The portrait of the prophets put forth by Wellhausen and adapted by huge segments of modern Jewry is neither "prophetic" nor "Judaism." Rather, it is an imposition of Enlightenment and liberal Protestant ideas upon Jewish theology and practice. Its denial of the binding nature of Jewish law, as Solomon Schechter observed, is reminiscent of Pauline Christianity, which rejected Jewish law in the name of a universalistic ethic. It is not surprising, therefore, that Schechter called advocates of this position "amateur Christians." (30)

Language Problem

As the early 20th century rabbi Alexander Kohut put it, expressing his opposition to such views incorporated into American Reform Judaism's 1885 Pittsburgh Platform: anyone who denies "the binding nature of the Law writes his own epitaph: I am no longer a Jew," to which Kohut adds that such reform is to deform the very nature of Judaism. (31) In this view, a post-halachic age is a post-Judaism age. Again, to

quote Schechter: "Our 'prophetic Jew': 'Bodily pilfers from the Pentateuch/And, undisturbed by conscious qualms/Perverts the prophets, and purloins the Psalms.'" (32)

Proclaiming that we live in a post-halachic age, much of American Jewry has replaced Jewish legal ethics with a particular understanding of American Constitutional law. (33) Obligation-based halachah has been replaced by rights-based Anglo-American jurisprudence as a focus of Jewish social concern. For example, halachic discourse on abortion has been replaced by the "right to choose," being "pro-choice." Neither the right to choose nor the right to life (pro-choice or pro-life) are categories or terms that resonate in Jewish legal discourse, however. Jewish legal ethics has its own "native language" to deal with problems in individual and social legal ethics. To identify Anglo-American legal rubrics with those of Jewish legal ethics is to commit a "category mistake." (34)

The metamorphosis of the Kantian notion of individual moral autonomy into the current notion of "the sovereign self" inevitably leads to Jewish discontinuity. Already in the Bible, the idea of "everyone doing what is right in his eyes" was identified with moral and religious anarchy. (35) According to a study of contemporary American Jewry, "The 'first language' that our subjects speak is by and large one of profound individualism. Their language is universalistic, liberal and personalist." (36) Such a view, this study concludes, is likely to "contribute to the dissolution of communal institutions and intergenerational commitment, thereby weakening the very sources of its own Jewish fulfillment and making them far less available to succeeding generations." (37)

Though for much of the American Jewish community, tikkun olam has become virtually synonymous with Judaism, it is not. Although the term tikkun (ha-)olam appears in talmudic and midrashic literature, no major study of early rabbinic thought recognizes it as a significant or central rabbinic concept. (38) Ironically, Jewish advocates of "abortion of demand" have described "the right to chose" as an example of tikkun olam; yet, the earliest uses of this term in rabbinic literature relate it to the human obligation to populate the world. The replacement of Jewish law with American civil law has made religious divorce (i.e., the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [get]) an unnecessary anachronism, according to advocates of post-halachic Judaism. Yet, early references to tikkun olam in the Talmud, specifically identify the get as an instrument for achieving tikkun ha-olam. (39) In a study of the uses of this term in talmudic and midrashic literature, the following conclusion is reached, "It seems to me that, in the Talmud, tikkun olam means 'for the proper order of the Jewish community.' It is a long way from that definition to 'build a better world.'" (40) In sum, the current universalistic and random use of tikkun olam is a distortion of the meaning of the term as it emerges in classical Jewish religious literature. (41)

The "personalist" approach of contemporary American Jewry focuses on the quest for individual meaning. Kabbalistic and Chasidic teachings serve as a major source for informing this quest. Such terms as tikkun and tikkun olam, used by kabbalists, have been utilized to represent a coalescence between the individual quest for meaning and the supposed social mission of the Jewish people, as well as a coalescence between "liberal" and "socially progressive" values identified as being both Jewish and American. However, this view is particularly problematic.

Galut of the Jewish Soul

The use of the term tikkun olam in the Aleinu prayer calls for "tikkun olam in the Kingdom of Heaven." According to rabbinic interpretations, this entails tikkun olam through observance of the commandments of the Torah and halachah. Therefore, to employ tikkun olam for secular pursuits is a blatant distortion of the meaning of the term. Indeed, early versions of the Aleinu are unabashedly particularistic, distinguishing the Jews from the moral depravity and religious heresies of other peoples. A universalistic reading of this text cannot be supported. This prayer expresses the desire to see idolatry uprooted from the world. There is no mention of "social justice." (42)

In Lurianic Kabbalah, tikkun olam does not relate to the "repair" of the socio-political conditions of our world, but to that of the upper worlds, particularly to the world of the Godhead, the s'firot. For the kabbalists, tikkun olam is a theocentric concern, not an anthropocentric, a political or a social one. (43) Also, the idea of tikkun is not historically related to "prophetic Judaism" as manifested in left-wing American politics, as Tikkun magazine would have us believe. (44) Rather, for the Lurianic mystics, tikkun often refers to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (tikkun ha-nefesh), the repair of the individual soul, spiritually debilitated by sin, and requiring repentance--often by means of extreme ascetic practices--for the violation or neglect of Jewish law. The emergence of Jewish-mystical-ethical literature in the 16th and 17th centuries focuses on the cultivation of moral virtues and the dispelling of moral vices as a path to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (45) This is an individual program of moral and spiritual rehabilitation, not a program for social or political action.

Inevitably, the assimilation of Judaism leads to the assimilation of Jews. Recent demographic studies confirm this simple fact. In the 2001 American Jewish Identity Survey, neither the high level of intermarriage nor the large percentage (73 percent) of Jews that considered themselves as "secular" surprised many people. For decades, studies consistently found that Jews are the most secularized group in America. What was surprising was the increase (38 percent) in the number of Jewish adults and even more the number of Jewish children (53 percent) who identified themselves as having no religion. Also startling was the substantial increase of the number of Jews who are practicing a religion other than Judaism. (46)

Furthermore, the success of the "coalescence" strategy will mean that those who believe themselves to be practicing and perpetuating authentic Judaism will be practicing and affirming something very different. As Heschel put it in a 1965 address to the General Assembly of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds: "We may claim to be a success, but in the eyes of Jewish history we may be regarded as a failure." (47) In this regard, Solomon Schechter was prescient when he described "the Galut [exile] of Judaism...., the Galut of the Jewish soul wasting away before our very eyes." (48)

Recent demographic studies predict that if current trends are maintained or accelerate, within a few generations, most American Jews will be practicing a religion other than Judaism or no religion at all. Many of those who believe themselves to be practicing Judaism will actually be practicing and affirming something very different; they will be in a state of spiritual exile and alienation, but will not even be aware of it. They will be committing a "category mistake" that distorts Judaism. As such, they will be imperiling not only the survival of the Jewish people, but the continuity of Judaism, as well.


(1) Abraham Joshua Heschel, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1996), 3.

(2) Richard Rubenstein, Power Struggle (New York: Scribner's, 1974), 128; see also Arnold J. Wolf, Sh'ma 10:185 (January 11, 1979): 39.

(3) See e.g., Eliezer Berkovits, Faith After the Holocaust (New York: Ktav, 1973). The Holocaust survivor and novelist Primo Levi understood the Holocaust as evidencing the collapse of western liberal values; see e.g., Byron L. Sherwin, "Moral Implications of the Holocaust in Holocaust Literature," In Answer, eds. Franklin Littell and Irene Shur (West Chester, Pa.: Sylvan Publications, 1988), 303-306.

(4) See Heschel's 1948 Yiddish review of Aaron Zeitlin's poetry and his 1963 interview with the Yiddish newspaper The Day--Morning Journal, translated as appendices in Morris Faierstein, "Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Holocaust," Modern Judaism 19 (1999): 267.

(5) See Heschel, Moral Grandeur, 156.

(6) Abraham J. Heschel, God in Search of Man (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1955), 23, n. 8; Abraham J. Heschel, The Earth is the Lord's (New York: Henry Schuman, 1950), 14-38.

(7) See e.g., Heschel, Moral Grandeur, 30.

(8) See Faierstein, 273-274. This is a reverse paraphrase of Gen. 27:22: "The voice is the voice of Jacob but the hands are the hands of Esau."

(9) Heschel, Moral Grandeur, 4.

(10) See e.g., Solomon Schechter, Seminary Addresses and Other Papers (New York: Burning Bush Press, 1959), 201, 210. Also see Heschel, Search, 14.

(11) The statement by the Kotzker Rebbe was relayed to the author by Heschel in a private conversation when Heschel was researching the enigmatic Chasidic leader.

(12) The term "category mistake" was introduced by Gilbert Ryle in his The Concept of Mind (New York: Barnes and Nobel, 1949).

(13) See e.g., Sidney Ayinn, "Kant on Judaism," Jewish Quarterly Review 59 (July 1988): 9-23.

(14) See e.g., Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals and What is Enlightenment, trans. Lewis White Beck (Indianapolis: Library of Liberal Arts, 1959).

(15) See Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel (New York: Meridian, 1957).

(16) See e.g., Michael Meyer, Response to Modernity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 64-66; Byron L. Sherwin, Workers of Wonders (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2004), 14-16; Jerold S. Auerbach, Rabbis and Lawyers (Bloomington, Ind.: University of Indiana Press, 1990), 52-68. A significant and influential early example of the influence of Kantian ethics on liberal Judaism is Moritz Lazarus, The Ethics of Judaism, trans. Henrietta Szold (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1900), especially, Vol. 1, 123-138.

(17) On the rejection of the existence of a Judeo-Christian ethic, see e.g., Arthur A. Cohen, The Myth of a Judeo-Christian Tradition (New York: Schocken, 1971); Irwin Blank, "Is There a Common Judeo-Christian Ethical Tradition?," in Judaism and Ethics, ed. Daniel J. Silver (New York: Ktav, 1970), 95-113.

(18) See Meyer, 286-289.

(19) See Auerbach, 15-17.

(20) Steven M. Cohen, American Modernity and Jewish Identity (New York: Tavistock Publications, 1983), 35; see also Elliott Abrams, Faith or Fear (New York: Free Press, 1997), 146-152.

(21) See e.g., Bernard Susser and Charles Liebman, Choosing Survival (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 68-89; Steven Cohen and Arnold Eisen, The Jew Within (Bloomington, Ind.: University of Indiana Press, 2000), 13-42. The privatization of religion in America has been extensively examined by the American sociologist, Wade Clark Roof; see his A Generation of Seekers (San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1993).

(22) Sylvia Barack Fishman, Negotiating Both Sides of the Hyphen: Coalescence, Compartmentalization and American Jewish Values (Cincinnati: Publications of the Judaic Studies Department of the University of Cincinnati, 1995), 14; see also Abrams, 148.

(23) Barack Fishman, 10-11.

(24) See e.g., Susser and Liebman, 86-89; Cohen and Eisen, 12.

(25) Charles Liebman, The Ambivalent American Jew (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1973), 197.

(26) Liebman, 150.

(27) Susser and Liebman, 69.

(28) See e.g., Yehezkel Kaufman, Toledot ha-Emunah ha-Yisraelit (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1964), Vol. 1, 23; Joseph Blenkinsopp, A History of Prophecy in Israel (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983), 23-30.

(29) See e.g., Sherwin, Wonders, 16.

(30) See Schechter's letter of Rabbi Morris Joseph quoted in Norman Bentwich, Solomon Schechter: A Biography (New York: Burning Bush Press, 1938), 303.

(31) Cited in Auerbach, 79.

(32) Schechter, Seminary Addresses, 98.

(33) See e.g., Auerbach, xvi-xviii, 93-94.

(34) See e.g., Robert Cover, "Obligation: A Jewish Jurisprudence of the Social Order," The Journal of Law and Religion 5:11 (1987): 65-74; Moshe Silberg, Talmudic Law and the Modern State (New York: Burning Bush Press, 1973), 61-92.

(35) See Judges 17:6, 21:25.

(36) Cohen and Eisen, 7.

(37) Cohen and Eisen, 12.

(38) For example, a discussion of Tikkun Olam is conspicuously absent in seminal studies of rabbinic thought such as Ephraim Urbach, The Sages, trans. Israel Abrahams (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987); Max Kadushin, The Rabbinic Mind (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1952), and others.

(39) See e.g., the study of the earliest uses of the term in rabbinic literature in the 2004 Hebrew University Ph.D. dissertation of Sagit Mor. See her Hebrew study, "Tikkun Olam: Its Early Meaning and its Influence on Divorce Law during the Mishnaic Period," Moed 15 (2005): 24-51.

(40) Eugene Lipman, "Mipne Tikkun ha-Olam in the Talmud," in The Life of Covenant, ed. Joseph Edelheit (Chicago: Spertus College Press, 1986), 108.

(41) See e.g., Gilbert Rosenthal, "Tikkun ha-Olam: The Metamorphosis of a Concept," The Journal of Religion 85:2 (April 2005): 214-240; Lawrence Fine, "Tikkun: A Lurianic Motif in Contemporary Jewish Thought," in Ancient Israel to Modern Judaism, eds. Jacob Neusner, et al, (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989), 35-53. See also Arnold J. Wolf, "Repairing Tikkun Olam," Judaism 50:4 (Fall 2001): 479-482; Steven Plaut, "The Rise of Tikkun Olam Paganism," <http//> (last accessed August 25, 2006).

(42) See Ismar Elbogen, Jewish Liturgy, trans. Raymond Scheindlin (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1993), 71-72.

(43) See e.g., Byron L. Sherwin, Kabbalah: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006), 105-107. See e.g., Isaiah Horowitz, Shnei Luhot ha-Brit (Jerusalem: Edison, 1960), Vol. 3, 152b, sec. "Rosh Hashanah": "All the commandments are for the purpose of repair of the Shekhinah [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], tikkunei shekhinah]."

(44) See Fine, 48-49.

(45) See e.g., Hayyim Vital, Sefer Sha'arei Kedushah.

(46) Egon Mayer and Barry Kosmin, 2001 American Jewish Identity Survey (New York: City University of New York, 2002).

(47) Heschel, Moral Grandeur, 23.

(48) Schechter, Seminary Addresses, 97. See also Auerbach, 104-105.

BYRON L. SHERWIN (B.S., Columbia University; B.H.L., M.H.L., Rabbinic Ordination, The Jewish Theological Seminary, M.A., New York University; Ph.D., The University of Chicago) is Distinguished Service Professor and Director of Doctoral Programs at Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies, in Chicago. He is the author or editor of 26 books and over 150 articles and monographs, including: Jewish Ethics for the 21st Century (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2000); Kabbalah: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006); Mystical Theology and Social Dissent (London: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1982, 2006).
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Author:Sherwin, Byron L.
Publication:Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought
Date:Sep 22, 2006
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