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 JEW THINK 

בעה"י
 

A manual of Jewish belief (a guide to real Judaism) for the thinking individual.

Copyright © 1977 by R' Avi Shafran

[Web Page Last Revised: Friday, April 28, 2006 01:18 PM ]

 

Introduction

My teacher and beloved friend, Rabbi Avi Shafran, Shlita, authored this wonderful, well-presented book in 1973, and published it in paperback form in 1977. Over the past three decades, I have found it an invaluable source of answers to the basic questions of Jewish belief that so often are posed. Unfortunately, the printed edition is no longer available. Therefore, with R' Avi's kind permission, I have converted it into an Internet-accessible form, so that others may benefit from the wealth of information and logical argument contained therein. I have also taken the liberty of adding a number of my own comments, which I have enclosed in brackets [] to distinguish them from the author's original text.

David ben Yosef Goldin, 28 Tammuz 5760.


Contents

     Preface
 1.  G~d's Existance
 2.  His Qualities
 3.  Why Judaism?
 4.  The Torah's Authorship
 5.  Two Torahs from Sinai
 6.  Free Will and Foreknowledge
 7.  The Constant Decline
 8.  Religion and Science in Conflict
 9.  Great Thinkers and Their Hangups
10. Good and Bad
11. Sex in Judaism
12. Reward and Punishment

13. Fear of G~d
14. The Basic Obligatory Beliefs
15. Atheists, Agnostics and Non-Jews
16. The Nature of Sin and Repentence
17. The Jew's Individuality
18. Jewish "Denominations"
19. Women in Judaism
20. The Holy Land and the State of Israel
21. Trust in G~d
      Authorities Cited
      Suggested Books for Further Study
      Afterword

Preface

There exist pitifully few books written by modern religious Jews which deal with the general concepts of belief. I have therefore comprised this booklet to present a clear, honest and concise profile of religious Judaism. Written for the layman, Jewthink systematically deals with many of the questions which occur to those who find themselves confronted for the first time with religion, Judaism specifically.

The subject of this book is what I call "Real Judaism". Sometimes referred to as "Ultra-Orthodox", "Extreme-Religious", or "Way-Out" Judaism, it is the single remaining force of authentic Judaism. I sometimes will refer to Real-Judaism as Torah Judaism or simply as religious Judaism. The intention is the same.

The term "Jewthink" is introduced as a way of referring to the totality of a religious Jew's philosophies and beliefs. The state of a Real Jew's mind, his understanding of the world, and the conceptual status of his ideas and trends of thought are what constitute "Jewthink".

In most cases, when quoting from the Bible or Talmud, I have omitted cumbersome indications regarding exact locations of sources. Intentionally done for simplicity, it leaves the flow of thought uninterrupted by sometimes confusing references. Quotes from the original Hebrew or Aramaic have been freely translated, exact word-for-word translations often being misleading. I have tried to keep the intended meaning of the original language intact in all instances.

In keeping with Jewish tradition, I refer to the Creator of the Universe as G~d, not writing out His full name. Not knowing the final resting place of this book, I wish to avoid causing desecration to G~d's name. [Editor's note: Because of the nuances of today's word-processing software, a tilde (~) has been used instead of a hyphen, to prevent the name being split at the end of a line.]

Jewthink was originally produced in mimeographed form in 1973. Over the next three years, it reached a few hundred people. What heartened me most was the encouraging response of readers. It seemed at times as if each reader had taken the time not only to read it well, but to also write in comments and thoughtful criticisms. Even the two or three mildly caustic letters were welcomed and are now recalled with a smile. To all who cared to write I extend my appreciation and hope to hear from them again.

I would like to thank my dear parents for their help and encouragement. Rabbi Yosef Rottenberg generously reviewed the original manuscript and provided helpful criticism. My thanks to Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg for his keen observations and willingness to review the material with me. A special "thank you" goes to my Rebbe, Rabbi Matis Weinberg.

I also wish to thank my dear friend Eric Rosenbaum for his effort on behalf of this new edition.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to Samuel Gross, Publisher and Editor of Sepher-Hermon Press for undertaking the publication of the new edition as well as for his many useful suggestions in revising the text. The responsibility for the views expressed and for any errors committed lies, nevertheless, with the author.

Let me keep you, dear reader, no longer. My request to you is only that you read this book with the seriousness and attention due the subjects discussed therein.

Thank you.

Avi Shafron


Chapter 1

Introduction - Table of Contents - Preface - Other Writings by R' Avi - Other Divrei Torah - Chateau Mezcal