BOOKS

 

 

 

This page contains a brief description of those books which are most often read. For a full bibliography, see curriculum vitae. Most of these books are available from amazon.com.

 

PHILOSOPHIC MYSTICISM: ESSAYS IN RATIONAL RELIGION

This book is collection of essays on the overlap between medieval philosophy and mysticisim. The essays comprise my work over many years, first on Hoter ben Shelomo, a Yemenite scholar from the 15th century, and then on the great philosopher, Maimonides.

The thesis of the book is that medieval philosophers had a type of religious mysticism that was rooted in, yet grew out of, their rationalist thinking. The religious experience of "philosophic mysticism" was the result of this intellectualist and post-intellectualist effort.

Bar Ilan University Press, 2006.

FACING THE ABUSING GOD:

A THEOLOGY OF PROTEST

This book attempts a post-shoah theology. Starting with insights gained from the study of adult survivors of child abuse, the book goes on to point out that Jews in the post-shoah world feel like children who have been abused by their Father. After determining whether abuse is an attribute of God, the book proposes, following Jewish tradition, that protest, intellectual and liturgical, is the proper response to God in light of the shoah.

 

Westminster / John Knox, 1993.

THE BANALITY OF GOOD AND EVIL:

MORAL LESSONS FROM THE SHOAH AND JEWISH TRADITION

This book attempts a post-shoah ethics. Starting with the evidence from sociology and history, the book goes on to analyze the factors that facilitate the doing of both good and evil, focusing primarily on obedience, childhood discipline, and modeling. After analysis, the book proposes specific recommendations for inculcating prosocial attitudes and behaviors and discouraging antisocial attitudes and behaviors. Finally, sources from the Jewish tradition relevant to ethics are cited and explained.

Georgetown University Press, 1999.

LA BANALITE DU BIEN ET DU MAL

This book is a translation of The Banality of Good and Evil by A. Blum

Le Cerf, 2009.

GOD AT THE CENTER

This book is a series of divrei Torah, or spiritual homilies based on the weekly ritual reading of the Torah. Drawing on the commentary to the Torah of the hasidic leader, Rabbi Levi Yitzhaq of Berditchev, the book presents the textual problem that prompted Levi Yitzhaq's interpretation, gives and explains his interpretation, and then gives a modern response. The topics covered include: prayer, sexuality, spiritual leadership, war and peace, chosenness, finding a life partner, and many others.

 

Jason Aronson, 1994.

DIEU AU COEUR

This book is a translation of God at the Center by H. Krief.

 

Le Cerf, 2002.

THE PLACE OF FAITH AND GRACE

IN JUDAISM

This booklet, written in the context of Jewish-Evangelical dialogue, focuses on faith and grace rather than law and deeds in Judaism. Drawing strongly of the works of the late Abraham Joshua Heschel, the booklet argues that both faith and grace have a significant role in traditional Jewish theology.

 

 

Center for Judaic Christian Studies
Dayton, OH, 1985.

UNDERSTANDING JEWISH MYSTICISM

Volume 1

This book was the first anthology of Jewish mystical texts in English with explicatory commentary and guiding questions. After many years, it remains in print as an early classic in the field.

This volume presents two of the four mystical traditions: the Heikhalot tradition and the Zoharic tradition. The former deals with the ascent through the seven heavens to the Throne room as well as with the Sefer Yetsira (Book of Creation). The latter deals with what is usually understood as "Kabbala," the theosophic personality of God. It describes how to decipher a zoharic text and explicates texts dealing with God, humanity, and mystical prayer.

Ktav Publishing, 1978.

UNDERSTANDING JEWISH MYSTICISM

Volume 2

This volume, published several years after the first and intended as a continuation of that effort, presents two other mystical traditons: the philosophic tradition and the hasidic tradition.

The formulation of the philosophic mystical tradition is unique to this book. It proposes that religious philosophers, including Maimonides, were mystics of a special kind for whom philosophy was a step toward mystical experience. The hasidic tradition is divided into three types of analysis: the hasidic story, the hasidic prayer-life, and the zaddik or rebbe and his community. Creative student efforts are also included here.

 

Ktav Publishing, 1982.

     

YANKELE: A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR'S BITTERSWEET MEMOIR

Alex Gross

This book is the autobiography of Alex Gross, a survivor of the shoah who has been active in Atlanta for many years. In the first part, Alex tells about his life in the shtetl before the war, the sending of his family to the ghetto, and their deportation to Auschwitz. He then recounts his life in Auschwitz and the final trip to Gleiwitz and Buchenwald.

In the second part, Alex recounts the reconstruction of his life in England and then in America, including his successes and the series of additional personal tragedies that followed him through life.

 

University Press of America, 2001.

"AND BRING THEM CLOSER TO TORAH" : THE LIFE AND WORK OF RABBI AARON. H. BLUMENTHAL

This book is collection of the works of my late father. Part one contains his halkhic papers, including the one on granting women the right to be called to the Torah. Part two contains an interview on the subject of old age. And part three contains a sampling columns he wrote for Jewish newspapers. The whole is preceded by a reflection written by me.

My father was a distinguished rabbi and played a crucial role in the development of Conservative Judaism. This book tries to catch that. Copies are available directly from me.

Ktav Publishing, 2001.