The Book Project
While the primary focus of my work is with The Biblical Museum of Natural History (don't forget to book a tour if you are coming to Israel!), my next publishing project is a book about rationalist Judaism. Originally, the planned title was going to be Rationalist Judaism: Its Nature, Decline and Rebirth. However, it has come to my attention that some people unfamiliar with this project think that it is about a different form of Judaism than Orthodox Judaism. Therefore, I think it's important for the title to clarify that it is about distinguishing between two approaches within Orthodox Judaism. Accordingly, I am toying with titles such as One Judaism, Two Religions: Rationalism versus Mysticism. But I am open to suggestions!
The plan is to divide the book into two parts. Part One will be a lengthy overview of the entire topic, similar to the lecture on this topic that I have delivered at many synagogues. It will include a brief synopsis of the topics in part two, as well as a brief review of the of issues discussed in Menachem Kellner’s important work Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism.
Part Two, Studies in Rationalist Judaism, will contain in-depth treatments of various subtopics. Some of these I have already e-published as monographs, while some are yet to be written. I plan to introduce each of them with an explanation of its relationship to the overall topic. Here is the list of chapters planned for this section:
The Sages' Powers of Life and Death (written but not published)
How did the Avos keep the Torah? (An expansion of this post, not yet written)
Brain Death and Organ Donation (written but not published)
The Transformation of Torah (Probably the most important and provocative chapter, documenting how the mitzvah of learning Torah has changed over the centuries, with all kinds of ramifications. It will be an expansion of several blog posts on this topic.)
The Nature of Nature and Providence (Similar to my discussion of this topic in The Challenge Of Creation)
It will also include an appendix on the topic of the role of belief in Judaism, which I have already mostly written.
(This book will not include my monographs about the development of orthodoxy and the evolution of charedism. Those will hopefully appear in a future volume about Orthodoxy, as yet untitled. That volume will also include detailed studies of the topics of rabbinic authority, yeshivah study versus IDF service, and studying Torah versus working for a living. It probably won't be on sale at the Agudah convention.)
I would welcome suggestions regarding what material to include (and not to include!) in the book.