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Five Cities of Refuge

Weekly Reflections on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy

Lawrence Kushner & David Mamet

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Description

In the ancient Jewish practice of the kavannah (a meditation designed to focus one’s heart on its spiritual goal), Lawrence Kushner and David Mamet offer their own reactions to key verses from each week’s Torah portion, opening the biblical text to new layers of understanding.

Here is a fascinating glimpse into two great minds, as each author approaches the text from his unique perspective, each seeking an understanding of the Bible’s personalities and commandments, paradoxes and ambiguities. Kushner offers his words of Torah with a conversational enthusiasm that ranges from family dynamics to the Kabbalah; Mamet challenges the reader, often beginning his comment far afield—with Freud or the American judiciary—before returning to a text now wholly reinterpreted.

In the tradition of Israel as a people who wrestle with God, Kushner and Mamet grapple with the biblical text, succumbing neither to apologetics nor parochialism, asking questions without fear of the answers they may find. Over the course of a year of weekly readings, they comment on all aspects of the Bible: its richness of theme and language, its contradictions, its commandments, and its often unfathomable demands. If you are already familiar with the Bible, this book will draw you back to the text for a deeper look. If you have not yet explored the Bible in depth, Kushner and Mamet are guides of unparalleled wisdom and discernment. Five Cities of Refuge is easily accessible yet powerfully illuminating. Each week’s comments can be read in a few minutes, but they will give you something to think about all week long.

Lawrence Kushner teaches and writes as the Emanu-El Scholar at The Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco. He has taught at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City and served for twenty-eight years as rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts. A frequent lecturer, he is also the author of more than a dozen books on Jewish spirituality and mysticism. He lives in San Francisco.

David Mamet is a Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright. He is the author of Glengarry Glen Ross, The Cryptogram, and Boston Marriage, among other plays. He has also published three novels and many screenplays, children's books, and essay collections.

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

04 August 2003 – This commentary, reflecting the thoughts of learning partners Rabbi Kushner and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Mamet on the weekly Torah portion, is insightful and inspiring. For each parasha, or weekly reading, the authors choose a verse or a set of verses that evokes questions or raises difficulties in understanding the text. Yet, instead of sharing the ideas that they pondered and perhaps resolved jointly, their commentaries are presented as two unique and separate entities with little or no connection with one another. As a result, although the book offers valuable explanations and helps elucidate the biblical readings, its format suggests it was simply a convenience to record the opinions of both men and not the result of laborious effort extended by their longstanding mutual Torah study. Kushner's concise one-page analyses sound like shorter versions of the typical rabbinical sermon, questioning incongruities and offering interpretations that are faithful to the text. They will be relatively easy for the novice to understand and learn, reliable and original enough for the Torah scholar to appreciate. Mamet, on the other hand, digresses into contemporary issues and submits commentary that, while fascinating, leaves the lay reader struggling to understand its meaning and its connection to the text. However, those seeking a creative take on the parasha will enjoy this commentary's brevity and intelligence.

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Five Cities of Refuge
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  • 9,99 €
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Judaism
  • Published: 26 August 2003
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Print Length: 192 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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