November 1st, 2010
10:14 AM ET

Prominent Jerusalem rabbi warns of religion's limits

[cnn-video url= http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2010/10/31/hartman.limits.cnn%5D

From CNN's Izzy Lemberg in Jerusalem:

I recently ran into David Hartman, a prominent philosopher and Orthodox rabbi, at a Jerusalem café and asked what he was working on. He said he's trying to understand if religion is in fact helpful to the human condition.

Hartman has long been a provocative figure. His Jerusalem-based Shalom Hartman Institute has engaged in such controversial work as the Orthodox ordination of women rabbis, a practice that most Orthodox Jews reject.

The institute also runs programs to improve understanding between Jews of diverse backgrounds and to foster a more pluralistic and tolerant Israeli society. And it promotes dialogue between Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The author of many books on Jewish philosophy, his next one - titled "The God Who Hates Lies: Rethinking Jewish Law” -  is sure to stir controversy in Orthodox circles. It challenges the idea that the authority of Jewish law must always trump personal morality.

I interviewed him in his Jerusalem office.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Books • Israel • Judaism • Middle East

soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. stevenwkp

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    November 27, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  2. DWTT

    DownWithTheTrinity-oh wait, gotta think jewish..jewish..jewish..

    November 26, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  3. isEveryonenutso?

    This is the most ridiculous movie! It is like taking a word out of the Declaration of Independence and claiming that there is a special significance to it. For example AMERICA-the word can be transliterated into Hebrew to AM RAK KAH which translates into "a nation empty of G-d" This entire movie is based on the the most ridiculous assumption that one word can be alluding to Mohammed. In that case, Hamas in Hebrew translates into Robbery, and Arab translates into Evening. Any person with a brain can see how insane this entire premise is-and nor learned person should buy this crap.

    November 26, 2010 at 6:16 am |
  4. RebZ

    No offense to anybody, but I think that the point is that Rabbi Hartman is breaking step with other Orthodox rabbis and.In this day and age when the Orthodox Movement is trying to rewrite the history of Judaism, his courage is notable. Want to bet some Orthodox rabbinical court excommunicates him?

    November 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  5. Girl for God

    In this secular world, I am surprised to hear a Rabbi talk about the negative role that religion plays on the lives of the followers. Because in the day-to-day, as a Christian, I feel a little better going to sleep at night knowing that I am part of a rich community of people that know how to love others, care for the world outside of themselves and their immediate surroundings, and be conscious of their potential and impact on this shared planet.

    Maybe religion is purely a social construct, and I know of many secular minded people who are capable of the great things that religious people do (albeit with different motives), but I highly doubt that religion is indeed 'negative' in the least. In a world heavy with strife and suffering largely due to the choices we make as a society, the only hope we can have for reconciliation through the hardships is that there IS a bigger force out there, guiding us along and in control. I know suffering exists and I don't at all know the reasons behind that, but I know that many of the people suffering find the hope needed to survive in their faith, which, inherently, is a good thing in of itself.

    I don't think faith means that I am fearful as a religious person. I see many "fearful" people step out in their faith into the places that need a helping hand, into the places with violence, danger, and immense suffering. I think my faith makes me more aware and optimistic about the world we live in, it challenges me to think outside of my situation and to empathize and act on behalf of the people that do not have it as easy. And even if there is a purely existentialist force behind our world and the direction it is going, then the service, hope, and positivity of religious people, in it's simplest form, could be the force behind a good direction for this world.

    And whether or not there is a consensus on this discussion at any point ever, I hope that we can all agree on the fact that we're all human, we're all heading in the same direction here on earth, and we all have a challenge to care for the resources and direction of our world.

    Thank you, and God bless. Rabbi, I will pray for you to find the answers you're searching for.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:41 pm |
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    November 4, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  7. Carol

    Really...can't this stop now? No, I am not a Satanist. Lets keep this civil, please.

    November 4, 2010 at 7:57 am |
  8. Carol

    Your most welcomed NL. Thanks for your advice also. Gotcha. Have a nice day! 🙂

    November 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.