By Steven Kepnes

Liturgy, a posh interweaving of be aware, textual content, music, and behaviour is a important fixture of spiritual existence within the Jewish culture. it truly is certain in that it truly is played and never in simple terms proposal. simply because liturgy is played by way of a selected team at a particular time and position it's mutable. hence, liturgical reasoning is usually new and understandings of liturgical practices are constantly evolving. Liturgy is neither preexisting nor static; it's stumbled on and printed in each liturgical functionality. Jewish Liturgical Reasoning is an try to articulate the inner styles of philosophical, moral, and theological reasoning which are at paintings in synagogue liturgies. This ebook discusses the connection among inner Jewish liturgical reasoning and the range of exterior philosophical and theological different types of reasoning which were constructed in sleek and submit liberal Jewish philosophy. Steven Kepnes argues that liturgical reasoning can reorient Jewish philosophy and supply it with new instruments, new phrases of discourse and research, and a brand new sensibility for the twenty-first century. The formal philosophical examine of Jewish liturgy begun with Moses Mendelssohn and the trendy Jewish philosophers. therefore the e-book focuses, in its first chapters, at the liturgical reasoning of Moses Mendelssohn, Hermann Cohen, and Franz Rosenzweig. although, it makes an attempt to enhance and additional boost the liturgical reasoning of those figures with equipment of analysis from Hermeneutics, Semiotic idea, submit liberal theology, anthropology and function thought. those more recent theories are enlisted to assist shape a latest liturgical reasoning which may reply to such occasions because the Holocaust, the institution of the country of Israel, and interfaith discussion among Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

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I use this description to conclude the argument of the book, which is that both religious thinkers and philosophers ought to take notice of liturgy since truth is to be conceived neither as objectivity nor (in Kierkegaard’s terms) as subjectivity, but as liturgical. This page intentionally left blank 1 Liturgical Semiotics Moses Mendelssohn’s ‘‘Jerusalem’’ One of the central assertions of this book is that liturgy has philosophical, theological, and ethical meaning. I have chosen to begin the book with the great Jewish Haskalah, or Enlightenment, figure, Moses Mendelssohn (1729–86), because he developed a semiotic theory in which signs are presented as vessels of rationality.

If he was such a convincing figure of the German Enlightenment, which, after all, was articulated by Christians and forged out of Christian culture, why and how could he remain a Jew? In his Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Immanuel Kant expressed what most Enlightenment figures thought of Judaism: Judaism was too legalistic, too particularistic, and too materialistic to serve the universal, rational, and spiritual vision of the Enlightenment. After many calls for Mendelssohn to convert to Christianity and following a number of challenges calling on him to defend his Judaism10 and, in particular, his Jewish observance, Mendelssohn finally took up the challenge in his book Jerusalem.

So, despite his preference for oral and liturgical expression, Mendelssohn has to address the scriptures. But here, too, Mendelssohn comes up with a novel interpretation that fits his model. The written Torah is inscribed in a purposefully brief, vague, and undetermined manner, with multiple inconsistencies. Therefore, Mendelssohn argues that the written Torah requires an ‘‘oral Torah’’ to clarify it. He writes, ‘‘There were but a few written laws, and even these were not entirely comprehensible without oral instruction and tradition.

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