Kadish, Alan, Michael A. Shmidman and Simcha Fishbane. “The Jewish Intellectual Tradition: A History of Learning and Achievement”, Academic Studies Press, 2020.
A Survey of the Jewish Intellectual Mind
The history of the Jews is also the history of the Jewish intellectual tradition with its long and complex history that has brought significant and influential works of scholarship to the world. Alan Kadish, Michael A. Shmidman and Simcha Fishbane, our authors here suggest that there is a series of common principles that can be extracted from the Jewish intellectual tradition and these principles have life-changing, implications for individual and societal achievement. “Respect for tradition while encouraging independent, often disruptive thinking; a precise system of logical reasoning in pursuit of the truth; universal education continuing through adulthood; and living a purposeful life” and discussed her and seen as these principles. We understand the historical development of them and to are shown that applying them judiciously can lead to greater intellectual productivity, an existence that is more fulfilling and a society that is more advanced.
Jews have excelled in all kinds of scholarship and we are reminded of that here. Kadish, Shmidman, and Fishbane claim that the Jewish commitment to intellectualism is part of our history and critical to Jewish identity. The book is divided into two distinct sections; chart the history of Jewish thought from its earlier iterations until modern day and an analysis of the common themes found in Jewish intellectual history.
Focus is six key time periods , from medieval Spain to the contemporary period, and we explore the significance and impact that the particular books might have had on readers. The authors condense many topicsincludingthe impact of Maimonides and the birth of modern Orthodoxy into just a few pages. Information is thoughtfully presented and it allows us to fill our personal libraries with important works. building a robust bookshelf before their readers’ eyes. Through shortened explanations of mystical texts, and early modern trends, there is a lot here. This is a helpful introduction to Jewish thought, Jewish history and literature. We cover the world and time to see why Jews have been so successful in intellectual life through balancing “precedence and independent thinking, the use of logic to get to a greater truth, the importance of education, and the use of knowledge and learning for a higher purpose.”
Throughout history, secular and religious Jews have benefited from the culture that holds esteem for these values. The two sections of the book depend upon each other and while they can be read separately, they really go together. The first portion is a wonderful resource and provides the necessary background to understand the authors’ later analysis. This is an “important new way to look at Jewish history and help us understand exactly what comes out of being the “people of the book.”