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May 07, 1982 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-05-07

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Friday, May 1, 1982 23

Publication of 'Jewish Philosophy and Pattern of Life'
Completes Analytical Trilogy by Dr. Simon Greenberg


The third volume of what
might be called a trilogy on
the entire field of Judaism
' and Jewish thought, "A
Jewish Philosophy and Pat-
tern of Life" by Dr. Simon
Greenberg, has been pub-
° lished by the Jewish
Theological Seminary of
The complete philosophy
that Greenberg presents is
the result of a lifetime of
study and keen analytical
- thinking. The approach
presented is not a parochial
but is developed in full
–_,Aizance of the world in
which we live — the Ameri-

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can environment that con-
stitutes our home, the inter-
relationship between the
state of Israel and the com-
munities of the Diaspora,
and our responsibilities as
Jews in the modern world.
One of the rarely dis-
cussed factors in any total
philosophy of life is that we
are human beings. This ob-
vious fact plays a signific-
ant role among the compo-
nents of any philosophy of
human life. Dr. Greenberg
analyzes carefully the na-
ture of consciousness, the
power of reasoning and will,
and similar factors of the American constitution
human life as they contrib- and from the judicial proc-
ute to the total picture of a ess.
What are the choices that
functioning, intelligent
an American Jew has in this
human being.
A basic assumption of country? Since we are here
as a totally voluntary com-
DT. Greenberg's philos-
ophy is that life is good munity, we have to make
and has to be worth living crucial decisions as to
in order to give the Jew whether it is worth while to
and human being within maintain Jewish life on an
him the satisfaction that individual and a commu-
he is entitled to find. nity basis, or to allow the
What are the elements of process of amalgamation to
a good life? How does one undermine any sense of
overcome distress, ethnic identity as Jews?
In Dr. Greenberg's pre-
meaninglessness, bore-
dom? How can one take sentation the arguments for
advantage of the continuing Jewish identity
blessings of both the in this milieu are over-
whelming. A positively
American and the
traditions and integrate oriented Jew will strive to
"advance the physical secu-
them into his life?
For a Jew living in this rity of Jews as individuals
country it is essential that and as a people, preserve
the Jewish religio-cultural
he know what it means to be
a responsible American heritage, expound it, dis-
citizen. A sizeable section of "seminate it, enhance it, ex-
this book deals with the de- perience it intellectually
and emotionally, and fash-
tails of the American heri-
tage, with the realities and ion the pattern of his per-
ideals of American life as sonal life in accordance with
they are extrapolated from the pattern of life fashioned
by it.".

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Dr. Greenberg follows
this by a careful,
enlightened discussion of
the Jewish heritage in
terms of beliefs. In deal-
ing with the idea of God
he does not merely call
for a belief in God. He
speaks also of creation as
a manifestation of God's
love, of man's place in the
universe, of Israel's role
in history, and of how
God communicates with
Israel and with mankind.
A special manifestation
of God's love is the cove-
nant that He established
with the universe
through the operation of
the laws of nature, and
the special covenant with
the people of Israel. God
is essentially the law-
giver not only for Israel
but also for all humanity.
With all this God is both
just and slow to anger
and forgiving.
This makes it possible for
human life to function and
for man to work out his sal-
vation. With the belief that
man is created in the image
of God it behooves him to
pattern his life in accord-
ance with the standard of
behavior set by God. The

Dignity consists not in
possessing honors, but in
consciousness that we de-
serve them.


impassable chasm between
the human and the divineis
thus bridged, and God the
wholly other becomes acces-
sible to man at all times.
Dr. Greenberg maintains
that the Jewish people hold
a special place in God's plan
for the universe. The Jews
are to be a holy people. This
is not merely something
that is transmitted from
generation to generation. It
is something that has to be
experienced with joy and
gratitude, with wonder and
reverence, with mutual love
between the individual Jew,
God, mankind, and the
people of Israel. -
Judaism thus becomes a
pattern of life, the best and
the only way in which a Jew
can achieve an integrated
personality. This is how
Halakha (Jewish law) is a
behavorial expression of the
divine plan. Dr. Greenberg
discusses this Jewish pat-
tern of life in enlightening
The best part of this
book is the Epilogue.
Here, Dr. Greenberg dis-
cusses some of the diffi-
culties involved in living
Up to this pattern of life,
and comes to a very in-
teresting and challenging
conclusion: the principle
of selectivity. The Jew

. .:.%S. 7.*:.5F.'

Knowledge and goodness
— these make degrees in
heaven, and they - must be
the graduating scale of a
true democracy.

who makes an honest ef-
fort to live a Jewish life
and knows that he cannot
live it in its totality must
select from among the
components of Halakha
as many laws as he can to
maintain this pattern of
Jewish life. This is not
purely subjective. Dr.
Greenberg lays down a
number of guidelines for
making the necessary
choices, and emphasizes
the onerous responsibil-
ity that the committed
Jew assumes in doing so.
This is a book for the
thoughtful reader, and
when read with proper at-
tention will be very reward-


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