fbpx
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Partners With God

Enjoying this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

“For the Sake of Heaven and Earth,” by Irving Greenberg (JPS, 2004).

 

In a passage from the Talmud (Makkoth 24a), Moses' blessing in Deuteronomy is cited: “And Israel dwells in safety alone.” The Prophet Amos arose to revoke that dubious blessing: “Oh God, cease, I beseech you! How shall Israel dwell all alone.”

Then the Lord repented concerning Moses' questionable blessing and declared, “That shall not be.”

Like Amos, Irvng Greenberg, in his compelling book, “For the Sake of Heaven and Earth,” knows that it is no blessing for Judaism or any religion to be alone. Religions need each other and are called to find each other in the imitation of godliness.

Greenberg's “partnership theology” transcends the theologically correct acceptance of the legitimacy of each faith. With imaginative foresight, he calls for a covenantal coalition of faiths to help fulfill God's dream of a universe created in God's image.

After the Holocaust, Greenberg expects more from religion than a polite tolerance toward other faiths and more than a begrudging acceptance of religious pluralism. He calls all religions to jointly see themselves as “shutafim lakodosh baruch hu b'maaseh bereshit” — joining each other in sacred partnership with the Holy One in creating and sustaining the universe.

The uniqueness of each religion Greenberg holds inviolate, but our times call all religions to transcend their individual particularity and join together in the repair of this broken world.

Greenberg steps in where only prophets dare to tread. He thus finds himself in the position of the prophet, the man “between.” His position leads him to stand between his institutional home base and his call for transcendent conscience. He knows full well that Holocaustal wounds and scars make it painful to extend the hand to the “other” and difficult to look into the eyes of the “other.”

Greenberg has written extensively of the long, sad history of contempt, the theological inquisitions that mock interfaith theological conversation as betrayal and dismiss dialogue as naively utopian. But he knows that to continue the status quo ante vitiates the possibilities of Christian, Jewish and Islamic solidarity.

He fears perpetuating the precarious polarization that only immortalizes the perennial rupture between “them” and “us,” the “chosen” and the “rejected,” the “elected” and the “superseded,” the “triumphant” and the “defeated.” Such split-thinking and believing leaves in its wake anger and suspicion.

With characteristic moral courage, Greenberg confronts “the failed Messiah” with empathic respect and refuses to dismiss the sacred intuitions of non-Jewish spirituality. Attention to the family resemblance of all monotheistic faiths may help them to overcome the parochialism that destabilizes globalization.

For such an approach, the man between will be held suspect. He will have to struggle against the threats of excommunication and even the charges of heresy. But the reader will find heart in Greenberg's confessional witness to the trajectory of his theological evolution.

While reading Greenberg's book, I was reminded of a passage from Rabbi Abraham Kook in his “Orot HaKodesh.” Kook had a profound influence on the spiritual life of Greenberg. The passage from Kook reads: “It is forbidden for religious behavior to compromise a person's natural moral sensibility. If it does, our fear of heaven is no longer ours. An indication of this purity is that our natural moral sense becomes more exalted as a consequence of religious inspiration. If the opposite occurs, and the moral character of the individual or group is diminished by a religious observance, than we are certainly mistaken in our faith.”

Throughout his essays, Greenberg is sustained by his natural moral sensibility and his fear of heaven.

The author makes a significant contribution to authentic inter-religious dialogue. His vision is rooted in the awareness that Judaism is a world religion that must engage other world religions in a quest for global unity.

Theological conscience cannot accept the segregation of God from His world and from His children.

This book I place on the shelf in my library that is most easily accessible. I know it will be consulted often, for God's sake and my own.

Harold M. Schulweis is rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin to Make Season 3 of ‘The Kominsky Method’

Netflix has renewed the Golden Globe-winning series “The Kominsky Method” for a third and final season. The comedy series, stars Michael Douglas—also a Globe...

Gold Statue of Convicted Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein Appears in Downtown Albuquerque

The group responsible for the prank said it was meant as political satire.

Make a Silly Hat for Your Next Zoom Meeting

Apparently, silly hats are a thing now on Zoom.

In the Midst of a Pandemic is Now the Right Time for God?

I admit I’m a fair weathered God fan, when things are good I sing his praises and when things are bad I reach out...

Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles Gives $8.5 Million to Nonprofits for COVID-19 Relief

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) announced on July 2 that the rest of its 2020 institutional grantmaking will go to...

‘Her Sister’s Tattoo’ Is an Insightful and Compassionate Tale of Sisterhood and Activism

“Her Sister’s Tattoo” is a fictional story that enables readers to understand the tragic case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

What is Jewish American Food? Culinary Experts Explain.

As American-Jewish society becomes harder to define, so does its food culture.

Gold Statue of Convicted Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein Appears in Downtown Albuquerque

(JTA) — A statue of the late convicted sex offender Jefferey Epstein appeared in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. The group responsible for the prank said...

What Risks Does Defunding the Police Entail?

A recent poll showed that by more than 2 to 1, Americans oppose the notion of defunding the police.

The Definition of Insanity

When I was a kid, my friend Ronnie Rosenberg commonly said to me, "Does your face hurt? Because it's killing me!" Never has that...

Culture

Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin to Make Season 3 of ‘The Kominsky Method’

Netflix has renewed the Golden Globe-winning series “The Kominsky Method” for a third and final season. The comedy series, stars Michael Douglas—also a Globe...

Make a Silly Hat for Your Next Zoom Meeting

Apparently, silly hats are a thing now on Zoom.

‘Her Sister’s Tattoo’ Is an Insightful and Compassionate Tale of Sisterhood and Activism

“Her Sister’s Tattoo” is a fictional story that enables readers to understand the tragic case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

What is Jewish American Food? Culinary Experts Explain.

As American-Jewish society becomes harder to define, so does its food culture.

‘Women of Valor’ Reminds Us Orthodox Women Are More Than Caged Birds Media Depicts

“Women of Valor: Orthodox Jewish Troll Fighters, Crime Writers, and Rock Stars in Contemporary Literature and Culture,” unpacks the portrayals of Orthodox women.

Latest Articles
Latest

Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin to Make Season 3 of ‘The Kominsky Method’

Netflix has renewed the Golden Globe-winning series “The Kominsky Method” for a third and final season. The comedy series, stars Michael Douglas—also a Globe...

Gold Statue of Convicted Sex Offender Jeffrey Epstein Appears in Downtown Albuquerque

The group responsible for the prank said it was meant as political satire.

Make a Silly Hat for Your Next Zoom Meeting

Apparently, silly hats are a thing now on Zoom.

In the Midst of a Pandemic is Now the Right Time for God?

I admit I’m a fair weathered God fan, when things are good I sing his praises and when things are bad I reach out...

Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles Gives $8.5 Million to Nonprofits for COVID-19 Relief

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) announced on July 2 that the rest of its 2020 institutional grantmaking will go to...

Hollywood

Ice Cube Denies Report He Ordered Entourage to Beat up a Rabbi

Above the letter he wrote “Don’t play with me. This is just phase one.”

Podcasts

The Most Radical Professor In Israel

Israel is one of the youngest democracies on the face of the planet. If you turn on the news here in Israel, or a...

Pandemic Times Episode 64: Tabby Refael tells the truth about quarantine

New David Suissa Podcast Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A conversation on raising kids and maintaining a career in pandemic times, with Jewish Journal weekly...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x