Thursday, January 5, 2012

Traces of God

Rabbi Neil Gillman is involved in the very suspect occupation of Jewish theology, two words that are only uncomfortably paired in the history of Judaism.  Rabbinical Judaism has stressed practice and adherence to the mitzvoth far more than to any set of beliefs or principles about God.  The overall impression of the Rabbinical world view is that it matters very little (or not at all) what a Jew believes about God, as long as he or she adheres to God’s commands.

Certainly, Gillman acknowledges this viewpoint.  There is no getting around it.  But of course it is nearly impossible to simply follow the mitzvoth and not have some idea of how or what God is.  So in this group of essays, Traces of God: Seeing God in Torah, History and Everyday Life, Gillman goes about examining aspects of Jewish religion which border on, if not reside in, the realm of theology.

This series of essays explore a range of areas, and are divided into three distinct topics.  As these pieces were written for a journal, Gillman often repeats himself in various places.  This is both good and bad.  The discussions can get a bit repetitive, but we also get to see how he thinks about a particular topic across a range of subjects.

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