The Wisdom of Love: Man, Woman and God in Jewish Canonical Literature

The Wisdom of Love: Man, Woman and God in Jewish Canonical Literature

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Naftali Rothenberg

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781934843291 (hardcover) / 9781934843550 (paper)
Pages: 236
Publication Date: January 2009

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The Wisdom of Love strives to challenge the discrepancy between the way source texts relate to love and the way they are perceived to do so, introducing readers to the extensive, profound, and significant treatment of love in the Jewish canon. This is a book about love, not its repression; it is an opportunity to study the wisdom of love, not those who lack such wisdom and are unlikely to ever acquire it. The book brings about not only a change in perception—recognizing the existence of the wisdom of love per se—but also the realization that this wisdom is the very foundation of religious wisdom as a whole, rather than a peripheral branch of it. All love derives from a single source: love between man and woman. It is from this source that all other manifestations of love, such as love of God, love of wisdom, and love of one’s fellow, draw their meaning.


Naftali Rothenberg is a senior research fellow and Jewish Culture and Identity Chair at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. He also serves as the town rabbi of Har Adar, Israel. He has authored and edited ten books.


Rabbi Dr. Naftali Rothenberg of the Van Leer Institute of Jerusalem . . . finds that the Bible, Talmud, Midrash and halacha (Jewish law) devote considerable attention to love and that much of rabbinic tradition treats love’s spiritual and physical aspects without inhibition. His study exposes a cognitive dissonance between what the Jewish canon says and what we expect our holy texts to say. The book celebrates love as a classical rabbinic ideal, and it is as rare as it is refreshing: scholarly, yet eminently readable; spiritual, yet sober.
— Eugene Korn, editor of Meorot: A Forum for Modern Orthodox Discourse and director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, Efrat, Israel