Item description for Accepting the Yoke of Heaven: Commentary on the Weekly Torah Portion by Yeshayahu Leibowitz & Yeshayahu Leibowitz...
Accepting the Yoke of Heaven is a compelling collection of thoughts on the weekly Torah portion by the acclaimed Jewish philosopher, Yeshayahu Leibowitz. As he leads us from Creation to the death of Moses, Professor Leibowitz takes us on a dramatic journey of philosophical discovery. Revealing his rational views on the nature of God and his relationship with Man, Leibowitz challenges our conceptions of the purpose of prayer and the presence of holiness in the world. He demands compliance with Jewish law for its own sake, irrespective of expectations of reward or punishment. Written with unflinching honesty and conviction, Accepting the Yoke of Heaven is a work of startling erudition.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Accepting the Yoke of Heaven: Commentary on the Weekly Torah Portion?
a razor sharp mind that will challenge your verities and holy cows Oct 25, 2005
I enjoyed this book enormously, he made me think as I read and I still ponder what he has to say months latter. Unlike so many religous writters who are in fact intellectual pygmies who got into religeon because they lacked the intellectual ability to do anything else ( or wanted to avoid militairy service) this man is a first class thinker. This man is a prince in a land of duds, sycophants, hacks and cretins.
A first - rate mind's insights but... Mar 1, 2005
There is much to be said about Yeshayahu Leibowitz. A tremendously learned and sharp- minded person , a scientific gadfly who seemed to kowtow to no authority, famous for daring to defy Ben- Gurion, a Jewish philosopher of importance, and a loveable curmudgeon whose anger and definiteness in speech had something delightful and playful about them. At the left - wing of Israeli politics he became the hero of secular 'peace-now' like people for his harsh criticism of Israeli government policy vis - a - vis the Palestinian Arabs. While his politics were not to my taste I had and have a genuine respect for his learning, and integrity. I think however that he made one critical mistake, one curse which went to far. I won't recall it but I will say it does to my mind , undermine his moral authority, and make his Biblical interpretation and Jewish philosophy less praiseworthy. I remember watching on television many of the talks included in this collection. Leibowitz was always definite and sure in his opinions ( the Hebrew word 'paskani' really describes it best) I think his conception of the Jewish religion however was quite narrow. And the notion which he taught at every turn that the Halachic Jew's task is to simply hear and obey, without questioning or understanding always struck me as in total opposition to what other commentators said and the Oral Tradition demands. In any case anyone who reads this work will find insights of a first- rate mind a bit too much given to believing that what he and only he says has to be the only thing which is right.
unqiue tidbits on the torah portions Feb 10, 2002
The erudite Professor Liebowitz passed away in 1994, but he has left us with fresh thoughts on the weekly Torah portions. He was a Professor of Science at Hebrew University, having immigrated to Palestine in 1935 at the age of 31. His commentaries on the weekly parshat reveal his radical ideas on the nature of god and god's relationship to humans, he confronts the nature of prayer, and our concept of holiness in the world. He promotes the idea of compliance with the law for its own sake, and not for reward or punishment. For example, take his commentary on Parshat Noach and that the meaning Tower of Babel is to look at the world after the flood. Was it a world as evil as the pre-flood world? Was the dispersion of people after Babel a punishment? Maybe it wasn't a punishment? Maybe dispersion is a reward, allowing for a difference in thought and practice and decentralization. Maybe Babel was a story of conformity, centralization and totalitarianism. Dispersion ended this. This is a very fresh thought, no? Or take Parhsat Vayeshev, the story of Jacob and Joseph and Egypt, and the sentence "Joseph was BROUGHT DOWN to Egypt. Is it actually a story of free will and determinism, a story of antinomies and paralogisms. Leibowitz focuses on midrash and writings that define the word "dealing and deeds" as "making a false accusation." He delves into the idea of God bringing deeds into the world and upon man, and later places the blame on man for these deeds, and the idea that the strife between the brothers and the sale of Joseph was pre-ordained, since it was known that the Hebrews would be slaves in Egypt for 400 years. In his four page discussion of Parshat Korach, he ties this parshat to parasha of tzitzit, and the ending sentences of the Shema which is recited daily. Korach, Leibowitz writes, rebelled against Moses saying "for all the community, all of them are holy." But, Leibowitz continues, the tzitzit idea of holiness (which appears in the paragraph above the Korach story) differs from that of Korach. The tzitzit concept of holiness is one that should be strived for, it is a goal; while Korach believes it is something that is granted. Korach has absolved himself of responsibility, he boasts that he is a member of a holy nation, even though he is contemptible. Are the people holy or do they become holy through their actions and performance of certain tasks? Guess what, the ideas from Korach did not end when he was swallowed up by the Earth. It continues today. If you enjoy these ideas, buy the book and read it.
When you have a few minutes Feb 7, 2002
In 1985, the IDF radio station Galei Zahal gave the late scientist and philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz the chance to give a series of short talks on the Torah portion of the week. Accepting the Yoke of Heaven is a compilation of those transcripts, with some additions and clarifications to accommodate the change from speech to text. Can anyone hope to offer profound new insights into an entire Torah portion in 12 or 13 minutes? To Leibowitz's credit, he doesn't even try, limiting himself instead to almost off-the-cuff, apolitical remarks about some small aspect of the text that caught his attention. Here is Leibowitz commenting on this week's parsha, Mishpatim: "It is commonly accepted among the naive, and sometimes among those who pretend to be naive, that the entire world of the oral Torah is nothing but the authorized interpretation of the written Torah. But in truth, that is not at all the position of halakhic, talmudic and rabbinic Judaism." If there is a theme underlying these short, unscripted homilies, it is Leibowitz's conviction that the Jews' obligation to observe the commandments is an end in itself. As he points out in his talk on Vayikra: "a person does not assume the yoke of the Torah and mitzvot because God's voice reaches him, but God's voice reaches a person who accepts upon himself the yoke of the Torah and mitzvot. Faith is not given to man from the outside." So don't look for enlightenment in this short volume. Read it instead whenever you have a few minutes you want to spend in the company of a fine mind "talking Torah."