The Wis­dom of Love: Man, Woman, & God in Jew­ish Canon­i­cal Literature

Naf­tali Rothen­berg; Shmuel Ser­mon­e­ta-Ger­tel, trans.
  • Review
By – January 11, 2012
Love! A word that every­one thinks they know so much about and yet we know so lit­tle. A word that dri­ves many of us to do things that we lat­er regret. And, yet, a word that has been thought about, exam­ined, and debat­ed for near­ly three mil­len­nia. 

In this small vol­ume, Naf­tali Rothen­berg opens the reader’s mind to the insights of some of the great­est thinkers in our rich tra­di­tion, peo­ple like Rab­bi Aki­va, Judah Abra­vanel, and Judah Hale­vi. Build­ing on the words of Torah, which begins with the sto­ries of cre­ation and the rela­tion­ships between man and woman, Rothen­berg cre­ates a deep under­stand­ing into the dynam­ics of Love as a cen­tral focal point in the estab­lish­ment of the fam­i­ly and the community. 

From the ini­tial explo­ration of Love from a the­o­ret­i­cal per­spec­tive, Rothen­berg intro­duces the read­er to the place of Love with­in human expe­ri­ence. Although the study is clear­ly from an his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive draw­ing on lit­er­a­ture through the cen­turies, there are also clear con­nec­tions to the issues that are before our com­mu­ni­ty in the 21st cen­tu­ry whether it be fem­i­nism or the place of the mar­riage con­tract or the respon­si­bil­i­ties that each of us has for each oth­er. For those inter­est­ed in under­stand­ing the rela­tion­ships between men and women, between hus­bands and wives, between par­ents and chil­dren, this exam­i­na­tion of our tra­di­tion will add a deep­er under­stand­ing of the place of both spir­i­tu­al and phys­i­cal Love in our lives today.
Paul A. Flexn­er, Ed.D., is an Instruc­tor in Edu­ca­tion­al Psy­chol­o­gy at Geor­gia State Uni­ver­si­ty, a vet­er­an of 35 years as a Jew­ish edu­ca­tor and a mem­ber of the Board of Direc­tors of the Jew­ish Book Council.

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