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The Gate to Perfection: The Idea of Peace in Jewish Thought

by Walter Homolka

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2011,103,337 (4)None
A timely book: as Israelis and Arabs are moving towards a settlement, this study offers a valuable historical dimension, from the Jewish point of view, to the main issue involved, i.e., the idea of peace. The authors maintain that peace has always played an important role in Jewish thought, that in fact Judaism as a religion is characterized by the striving for peace. They reach this conclusion after having examined a variety of sources, ranging from the biblical texts of Old Israel to the Talmudic tradition and Jewish Philosophy of Religion up until the twentieth century.… (more)
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A short book, covering the development of the concept of peace (shalom) in Jewish literature from the Pentateuch to our own times. The authors show that there is not a single trajectory, from nationalism to universalism, as others have claimed. Rather, the existential situation of the era influences the concept of peace for that times' writers and theologians.

Judaism, separated from the Land after the first century CE, was able to develop a rich understanding of peace, both in the community and individual of the day, and in well-developed Messianic hopes. The final chapter is a long one, and addresses the challenges to Jewish ideas of peace in the aftermath of the Holocaust and the establishment of the nation of Israel. The creation of Israel within its ancient borders renews Biblical paradigms of peace as related to the Land.

This is an easy book to read, and includes copious examples of the relevant literature from scripture, liturgy, prayer books, and philosophical and theological writings. I appreciate the openness of the authors as they struggle with ideals of pacifism and the existential reality of Israel's precarious situation. ( )
  TerriBooks | Oct 14, 2010 |
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A timely book: as Israelis and Arabs are moving towards a settlement, this study offers a valuable historical dimension, from the Jewish point of view, to the main issue involved, i.e., the idea of peace. The authors maintain that peace has always played an important role in Jewish thought, that in fact Judaism as a religion is characterized by the striving for peace. They reach this conclusion after having examined a variety of sources, ranging from the biblical texts of Old Israel to the Talmudic tradition and Jewish Philosophy of Religion up until the twentieth century.

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