The Jewish Social Contract begins by asking how a traditional Jew can participate politically and socially and in good faith in a modern democratic society, and ends by proposing a broad, inclusive notion of secularity. David Novak takes issue with the view--held by the late philosopher John Rawls and his followers--that citizens of a liberal state must, in effect, check their religion at the door when discussing politics in a public forum. Novak argues that in a "liberal democratic state, members of faith-based communities--such as tradition-minded Jews and Christians--ought to be able to adhere to the broad political framework wholly in terms of their own religious tradition and convictions, and without setting their religion aside in the public sphere. Novak shows how social contracts emerged, rooted in biblical notions of covenant, and how they developed in the rabbinic, medieval, and "modern periods. He offers suggestions as to how Jews today can best negotiate the modern social contract while calling upon non-Jewish allies to aid them in the process.
The Jewish Social Contract will prove an enlightening and innovative contribution to the ongoing debate about the role of religion in liberal democracies.
David Novak is J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the author of eleven books, including "Covenantal Rights" (Princeton), which won the 2000 American Academy of Religion Award for best book in constructive religious thought.
List of Abbreviations ix Preface xi Chapter One: Formulating the Jewish Social Contract 1 The Democratic Contract 1 The Political Value of the Social Contract 7 A Contract between Minorities 10 Community and Society 12 Claims for Cultural Autonomy 21 Chapter Two: The Covenant 30 Covenant and Social Contract 30 The Noahide Covenant 34 Divine Interest in the Covenant 36 Interhuman Covenants 40 The Covenant between God and Israel 47 Covenants between Jews 53 Covenants between Jews and Gentiles 56 Contracts: Social and Private 59 Chapter Three: The Covenant Reaf .rmed 65 Covenantal Necessity 65 The Voluntary Covenant 70 Covenantal Autonomy 77 Some Social Contracts within Judaism 81 Chapter Four: The Law of the State 91 Political Subordination 91 The Law of the Gentiles 100 Palestine and Babylonia 103 Samuel's Principle 114 Secularity and Secularism 120 Chapter Five: Kingship and Secularity 124 Royal Law 124 Royal Justice 132 Ibn Adret's Halakhic Answer 142 Gerondi's Theological Answer 147 Abravanel's Philosophical Answer 150 Chapter Six: Modern Secularity 157 The Dawn of Modernity 157 Baruch Spinoza: Covenant as Social Contract 158 Moses Mendelssohn: Judaism as a Religious Denomination 164 Religious Pluralism in a Secular State 169 Traditional Judaism Continued in the Secular State 173 Mendelssohn's Problematic Legacy for Judaism 178 Chapter Seven: The Social Contract and Jewish-Christian Relations 188 The New Jewish-Christian Situation 188 Political Theology 195 Beyond Liberalism and Conservatism 201 The Question of Trust 205 Jews, Christians, Atheists, and Secularists 212 Chapter Eight: The Jewish Social Contract in Secular Public Policy 218 Jews, Judaism, and Public Policy 218 Criteria for Jewish Public Policy 223 Jewish Suspicions of General Morality 229 The Unavoidability of General Morality 230 The Political Argument for the Social Contract 235 Jewish Self-Interest and Political Alliances 237 Bibliography 239 Index 251