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Defending the Human Spirit based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
The author is the Chief Rabbi of South Africa and he has written a rather misleading book. He says that Judaism, with its deep concern for the weak and powerless, which the author refers to as the ¿Vulnerability Principle¿, has long had a superior legal system to that of Western society in the four areas of political power, oppression of women, criminal justice and finally, poverty and the law. The section on political power emphasizes the importance of the law in Judaism¿s long history and condemns the appalling abuses of power by absolute rulers in Europe. The centrality in Judaism of the religious framework has often tempered kingly power. However, nothing is said about the cruelty inflicted on deviant Jews, despite or within the law, through the exercise of rabbinical power in Jewish communities in seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe. Rabbi Goldstein should be aware, for example, of the tragic story of Uriel da Costa¿s treatment at the hands of the rabbinate in Amsterdam. In the section on the oppression of women there is a good summary of the atrocious condoning within Western Society of the ugly crime of rape in marriage, which has always creditably been condemned in Jewish law. However, there is no word about the asymmetry in Jewish marital law, where a man could divorce a woman for little reason until about 1000 years ago. Nor is there an account of Agunot, the current refusal of Judaism to allow a woman a divorce if her husband refuses it. Then a Jewish woman may have been cruelly beaten daily by her Jewish husband, and may have obtained a civil divorce under a proper legal system, and yet under Jewish law she is not allowed to remarry. What could have been a useful work is deeply flawed because the author has allowed his loyalty to override his judgment.