“Covenant & Conversation: Deuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai Covenant” by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks— The Final Volume

Sacks, Rabbi Jonathan. “Covenant & Conversation: Deuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai Covenant”, Maggid, 2019.

The Final Volume

Amos Lassen

“Covenant & Conversation: Deuteronomy: Renewal of the Sinai Covenant” is Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’  fifth collection of Torah commentaries and it completes that project. Rabbi Sacks brings together Jewish tradition, Western philosophy and literature and as he has done in the four previous volumes of “Covenant and Conversation”, he presents with “a highly developed understanding of the human condition under God’s sovereignty.” And like the other volumes,  this final volume of the series contains several concise essays for each parasha of Deuteronomy.

The Torah bridges “past and present, moment and eternity and this is the frame Jewish consciousness.” Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks explores these intersections in regards to universal concerns of freedom, love, responsibility, identity, and destiny. If you have ever read or heard Rabbi Sacks, you know what I am speaking of and if you haven’t read him, it is never too late to have that wonderful experience.

Rabbi Sacks here writes: “With the book of Deuteronomy, the entire biblical project becomes lucid and reaches its culmination. Deuteronomy is the last act of the Jewish people’s drama before becoming a nation in its own land, and it forms the context of all that follows… [it] is in essence a programme for the creation of a moral society in which righteousness is the responsibility of all. The good society was to be, within the limits of the world as it was thirty-three centuries ago, an inclusive if not an entirely egalitarian one. Time and again we are told that social joy must embrace the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the Levite, people without independent status or means.  It is to be one nation under God.”

The entire “Covenant & Conversation” series consists of multiple essays on every Torah portion. The set has been described by critics as “profound,” “poetic,” “masterful,” “perfect reading for the lay person or scholar.”

Rabbi Sacks says, “I am delighted to have finished this work on the Covenant & Conversation series. I called this series Covenant & Conversation because this, for me, is the essence of what Torah learning is – throughout the ages, and for us, now. The text of Torah is our covenant with God, our written constitution as a nation under His sovereignty. The interpretation of this text has been the subject of an ongoing conversation that began at Sinai thirty-three centuries ago and has not ceased since. Every age has added its commentaries, and so must ours. I hope by reading this series, people are inspired to participate in that conversation, because that is a major part of what it is to be a Jew.”

I see two kinds of books in the world today—- those that you read and just enjoy and those that are total experiences and the latter is exactly what this is.

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