With his characteristic skill and insight, Micah Goodman guides us through the beauty of Jewish philosophy, uplifting us from perplexity to enlightenment.—Shimon Peres, former president of the State of Israel
A publishing sensation long at the top of the best-seller lists in Israel, the original Hebrew edition of Maimonides and the Book That Changed Judaism has been called the most successful book ever published in Israel on the preeminent medieval Jewish thinker Moses Maimonides. The works of Maimonides, particularly The Guide for the Perplexed, are reckoned among the fundamental texts that influenced all subsequent Jewish philosophy and also proved to be highly influential in Christian and Islamic thought.
Spanning subjects ranging from God, prophecy, miracles, revelation, and evil, to politics, messianism, reason in religion, and the therapeutic role of doubt, Maimonides and the Book That Changed Judaism elucidates the complex ideas of The Guide in remarkably clear and engaging prose.
Drawing on his own experience as a central figure in the current Israeli renaissance of Jewish culture and spirituality, Micah Goodman brings Maimonides’s masterwork into dialogue with the intellectual and spiritual worlds of twenty-first-century readers. Goodman contends that in Maimonides’s view, the Torah’s purpose is not to bring clarity about God but rather to make us realize that we do not understand God at all; not to resolve inscrutable religious issues but to give us insight into the true nature and purpose of our lives.
Micah Goodman is a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and the director of Israel’s Ein Prat Midrasha. A prominent public intellectual, he is a leading voice on Judaism, Zionism, the Bible, and the challenges and opportunities facing Israel and contemporary world Jewry. He is the author of three best-sellers in Hebrew on canonical Jewish texts.
“Maimonides and the Book That Changed Judaism presents an exciting and relevant possibility: freeing the mind from the habits of religious discourse and returning the concept of God to the intellectual’s thoughts.”—Ruth Calderon, author of A Bride for One Night, member of the Israeli Knesset, and founder of Alma: Home for Hebrew Culture
Part 1. God
1. The God of Maimonides
5. From Negative Theology to Empowering Humanity
Conclusion: The New Religious Hero
Part 2. Torah
6. Is the Torah Divine?
7. Reasons for the Commandments
8. Man and the Torah
9. The Universality of the Torah
Conclusion: Rising to the Level of Understanding
Part 3. Perplexity
11. The Creation of the World
12. Perplexity and God
13. The Role of Doubt
14. Halakhah and Dogmatism
15. The Crisis of Reason
16. The Crisis of Tradition
17. From Perplexity to Mysticism and Politics
18. Therapeutic Perplexity
Conclusion: The Purpose of Life