Audio Roundup Special: Rabbi Sacks zt”l

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by Joel Rich

 

The Philosophy and Writings of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”l

Introduction: Rabbi Sacks. His Life and Works.
R’ Sacks was a master communicator both to the Jewish and Non-Jewish communities.  His message was that all of today’s recognized,  positive values are in the Torah.  He chose to write in and engaging manner to get his message out there to “everyday people (HT-Sly and the Family Stone).
 
Universalism and Particularism (The Dignity of Difference)
        There was great controversy over “Dignity of Difference”—Did R’Sacks really say no religion has a monopoly on the truth?  He had to clarify in a second edition but did not retract his approach to a basic universalistic/particularist balance.
 
How Modern Society is Broken, and How to Fix It. (The Politics of Hope, Morality)
        “Radical Then, Radical Now” is R’Sacks’ call to us as to why to be Jewish, especially today.  We are the next chapter in the eternal story and our values underpin western society.  Don’t be ashamed, and remember all mitzvot have large ideas behind them.
Why be Jewish? (Letter in a Scroll)     “Morality” and “Politics of Hope” make the case that western society needs to refocus on the “we” (away from the “I”) in rebuilding institutions to support community-based morality.
The State of Israel. Miracle and Challenge (Future Tense)
        R’Sacks was a life-long, passionate Zionist.  In “Future Tense,” he moves past the survival of Israel to a future vision for the Jewish people in their homeland.
How did Rabbi Sacks read the Creation Chapter? – Religion and Science (The Great Partnership)
        Religion gives meaning to life, science explains how things work—they don’t contradict.
Thoughts on Torah and Prayer (The Sacks-Koren Siddur, Will we Have Jewish Grandchildren?, and Covenant & Conversation.)
        As much as R’Sacks was an outwardly focused spokesperson, he viewed Torah (education and commentary) and Tfila (structure and meaning) as central.  How much did he see Torah as a developmental process? (e.g., acceptance of slavery as an initial condition)?

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

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