The Wisdom of the Talmud
Ben Zion Bokser (July 4, 1907 – 1984) was one of the major Conservative rabbis of America.
He stressed the Rabbinic sages and the Talmud as the source of Judaism. "This is not an uncommon impression and one finds it sometimes among Jews as well as Christians - that Judaism is the religion of the Hebrew Bible. It is, of course, a fallacious impression. . . Judaism is not the religion of the Bible" (Judaism and the Christian Predicament, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967, p. 59).
Similar to Heschel, Bokser affirms revelation and even the special status of Sinai, but revelation is always framed in humans by man. "Man receives a divine communication when the divine spirit rests on him, but man must give form to that communication; He must express it in words, in images and in symbols which will make his message intelligible to other men. Out of this need to give form to the truth that is revealed to him, the prophet places the stamp of his own individuality upon that truth."
Bokser argued that Christian antisemitism had desensitized Germans to the heinous character of Nazi propaganda. However, in the post-war period Christian religious and lay leaders have insisted that Christians must play a role in correcting the problems of the social order. (Judaism and the Christian Predicament)
Active in interfaith, Bokser composed the following prayer in the style of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook.
When prayers rise
In synagogue, church and mosque
God prays for His world.
May it be the will of My children
To accept My gift of life,
And allow me to lead them
Toward the light.
- Auriel Media, December 2012
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