Guides for an age of confusion: studies in the thinking of by Jack J. Cohen

By Jack J. Cohen

Courses for an Age of bewilderment compares and contrasts the perspectives of the 2 nice Jewish philosophers Avraham Y. Kook and Mordecai M. Kaplan. even if those thinkers stand at contrary ends of the spectrum of Jewish suggestion, they're united of their love for the Jewish humans and of their trust within the want for Jewish solidarity. Following an advent to either males, the writer, a disciple of Kaplan's, explores their perspectives concerning probably the most very important concerns confronting the Jewish buyers. those comprise traditions similar to Israel's chosenness; the prestige of the Halakhah, conventional Jewish legislation, in modern society; prayer and its revitalization; repentance (Teshuvah) resulting in the go back to God; and the position of Eretz Yisrael within the lifetime of the Jewish humans. different subject matters lined are the assumption of and the hunt for God, the placement of girls in Jewish society, and philosophies of schooling, in addition to an exploration of esthetics in Jewish lifestyles and the demanding situations of democracy. every one bankruptcy offers an summary of the topic after which discusses the divergent perspectives of the 2 thinkers, in addition to their parts of contract. ultimately, the e-book endeavors to painting the way forward for Jewish existence as envisaged in the course of the eyes of those nice males. within the author's view, a discussion has to be verified among the fans of either Kook and Kaplan. in simple terms during this means can Jewish harmony be maintained and the Jewish destiny secured. This e-book is an attempt to open that discussion.

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Additional info for Guides for an age of confusion: studies in the thinking of Avraham Y. Kook and Mordecai M. Kaplan

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Socially, Kook kept his distance from the non-Jewish world, but he was extremely interested in its currents of thought. In this study, I shah not attempt to speculate on the identities of the European thinkers who appear in Kook's writings. I leave this subject to academicians more capable than I. Suffice it to say that traces of Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Bergson, and other philosophers seem to have influenced some of Kook's ideas. As I have noted, it is difficult to determine whether their impact came from Kook's Page 20 reading of original sources, from essays that appeared frequently in Hebrew periodicals, or from unconscious absorption of the intellectual atmosphere of the time (see Note 8, Chapter 1).

4. Schweid, op. , p. 261. 5. Kook's well-known availability and graciousness to everyone mislead some readers to regard him as a liberal and a pluralist. But it is sufficient to note his reaction to common practices in non-Orthodox synagogues in the United States to realize his uncompromising opposition to all deviations from Halakhah and ancestral custom. In a responsum written in 1923, he pronounced single-mindedly: "God forbid that any Jew should be among the sinners and join a congregation like this that casts off holy restraints.

In contrast, there can be little doubt that Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza, a millennium and a half later, was not concerned with strengthening Jewish life when he conceived his philosophical system. He considered his orientation to be the antithesis of Judaism. Even if Spinoza had not been excommunicated, he could never have contemplated a Judaism that could absorb or tolerate his revolutionary ideas. For him, Judaism was a world apart from that in which he wanted to think and live. Yet, if Aher and Spinoza were to be in our midst today, they would undoubtedly be accorded opportunities to fill important posts in Jewish communal life or to teach or do research in the Jewish Studies Department of a Jewish university.

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