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Jonathan Sacks: An Intellectual Portrait

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Chapter Summary

Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks represents one of the most important voices in discussions that concern the plight of Judaism and, indeed of religion more generally in the modern world. His earliest work dealt specifically with the problems besetting Judaism and its confrontation with modernity beginning in the nineteenth century. Of most important concern to Sacks is the division between Orthodoxy and more liberal denominations. Modernity and the social processes that followed in its wake, according to Sacks, were responsible for destroying the meaning of many of the key terms of Judaism. To reveal the limitations of philosophy is the goal of Sacks's rationalism. Despite the appeal to universalism in the latter, Sacks argues that "languages and cultures are always particular". Judaism must not become an insular tradition, on his reading, but must play an intimate role within the human conversation.

Keywords: Jonathan Sacks; Judaism; particularism; universalism



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