A biochemist by profession, a polymath by inclination and erudition, Yeshayahu Leibowitz has been, since the early 1940s, one of the most incisive and controversial critics of Israeli culture and politics. His direct involvement, compelling polemics, and trenchant criticism have established his steadfast significance for contemporary Israeli-and Jewish-intellectual life. These hard-hitting essays, his first to be published in English, cover the ground Leibowitz has marked out over time with moral rigor and political insight. He considers the essence and character of historical Judaism, the problems of contemporary Judaism and Jewishness, the relationship of Judaism to Christianity, the questions of statehood, religion, and politics in Israel, and the role of women. Together these essays constitute a comprehensive critique of Israeli society and politics and a probing diagnosis of the malaise that afflicts contemporary Jewish culture.
Leibowitz's understanding of Jewish philosophy is acute, and he brings it to bear on current issues. He argues that the Law, Halakhah, is essential to Judaism, and shows how, at present, separation of religion from state would serve the interest of halakhic observance and foster esteem for religion. Leibowitz calls the religious justification of national issues "idolatry" and finds this phenomenon at the root of many of the annexationist moves made by the state of Israel. Long one of the most outspoken critics of Israeli occupation in the conquered territories, he gives eloquent voice to his ongoing concern over the debilitating moral effects of its policies and practices on Israel itself. This translation will bring to an English-speaking audience a much-needed, lucid perspective on the present and future state of Jewish culture.
Yeshayahu Leibowitz was head of the Biological Chemistry Department at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Professor of Neurophysiology on its Faculty of Medicine.
Introduction by Eliezer Goldman PART 1: FAITH 1. Religious Praxis: The Meaning of Halakhah 2. Of Prayer 3. The Reading of Shema 4. Fear of God in the Book of Job 5. Divine Governance: A Maimonidean View 6. Lishmah, and Not-Lishmah 7. The Uniqueness of the Jewish People 8. The Individual and Society in Judaism 9. Ahistorical Thinkers in Judaism 10. The Religious and Moral Significance of the Redemption of Israel 11. Redemption and the Dawn of Redemption 12. The Status of Women: Halakhah and Meta-Halakhah 13. Religion and Science in the Middle Ages and in the Modern Era PART 2: RELIGION, PEOPLE, STATE 14. The Social Order as a Religious Problem 15. The Crisis of Religion in the State of Israel 16. A Call for the Separation of Religion and State 17. After Kibiyeh 18. Jewish Identity and Israeli Silence 19. The Jew in His Community, on His Land, and in the