Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rabbi David Hartman

Rabbi David Hartman created the Shalom Hartman Institute where I am now studying. He is a remarkable rabbi.  It is an honor and privilege to study with him. On Shabbat afternoon we studied a selection from Moses Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed.  We have studied many selections from Maimonides here at the Institute.  It is remarkable that a book written 800 years ago still holds sway over our hearts, but more importantly it is extraordinary how it holds sway over our minds and instructs us how to live as Jews and moderns.  We had two classes with David Hartman on, surprisingly enough not Talmud but, Erich Fromm. Fromm wrote in The Art of Loving:  "If I truly love one person I love all persons, I love the world, I love life."  Hartman models for many of us such a life, a life committed to the Jewish world and modern world.  He is unafraid of questions.  He is unafraid of struggle, and therefore no stranger to controversy.  What is most remarkable is that I have found him to be loving and caring when addressing people and especially us, his students, yet tenacious and unforgiving when struggling with our texts.  I leave you with one of his teachings.  He taught us that the anchor of our lives is to squeeze joy out of what is available to us.  This teaching is but one example of why he is my rabbi.  This idea also embodies what is so life affirming about modern Israel.  Joy is never handed to you.  It is something that requires great effort.  It often requires wringing it out of everyday matter and ordinary stuff.

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