Rad­i­cal Judaism: Rethink­ing God and Tradition

Arthur Green
  • Review
By – August 26, 2011
The book cer­tain­ly does live up to its title! More or less the third in the tril­o­gy” begun with 1992’s Seek My Face, Speak My Name: A Con­tem­po­rary Jew­ish The­ol­o­gy and 2006’s EHYEH: A Kab­bal­ah for Tomor­row, Rad­i­cal Judaism is a bril­liant, com­plex work of inno­v­a­tive the­ol­o­gy com­ing from a space Green labels both neo-Hasidic” and reli­gious human­ist,” which oth­ers might more broad­ly call Jew­ish Renew­al.” The roots of his the­ol­o­gy may spring from clas­sic Hasidic thought, but the branch­es move through Recon­struc­tion­ist ter­ri­to­ry, into a some­what uri­an­i­cal­ly monis­tic, post-Rab­binic area that is entire­ly of Green’s inspired chart­ing. If not unortho­dox to the fron­tiers of Jew­ish thought, it is cer­tain­ly unOrtho­dox in the tra­di­tion­al sense, bound to be trou­bling to more tra­di­tion­al thinkers — if in no oth­er way than sim­ply the thin­ning of the bound­ary between God and self. There are also cer­tain ques­tions it rais­es to the tra­di­tion­al mind: how is covenant to func­tion in such a the­ol­o­gy? To what degree does this the­o­log­i­cal mod­el encour­age not only obser­vance of social mitzvot but of pure­ly rit­u­al mitzvot also? Yet for those Jews not con­tent with tra­di­tion­al the­ol­o­gy, this work will be a deeply sat­is­fy­ing expe­ri­ence; a wel­come push­ing of the bound­aries by a mas­ter thinker. His rich, post­mod­ern read­ing of the Ten Com­mand­ments,
espe­cial­ly, will be great­ly appre­ci­at­ed by the seek­ing read­er. Almost cer­tain­ly a land­mark work, with which the­olo­gians and seri­ous Jew­ish thinkers will sure­ly have to grap­ple in the com­ing years.
Ami­tai Adler is a Con­ser­v­a­tive rab­bi. He teach­es and writes in Los Ange­les, CA, and has been pub­lished in Sh’­ma and Jew­ish Bible Quarterly.

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