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To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  424 ratings  ·  36 reviews
One of the most respected religious thinkers of our time makes an impassioned plea for the return of religion to its true purpose—as a partnership with God in the work of ethical and moral living.

What are our duties to others, to society, and to humanity? How do we live a meaningful life in an age of global uncertainty and instability? In To Heal a Fractured World, Rabbi J
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by Schocken (first published July 11th 2005)
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Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book felt like it came out of nowhere like a revelation. I first encountered the name Rabbi Sacks in a blog post on By Common Consent or Times and Seasons, I forget which, with a quote that caught me off guard with its profundity:

*“DO YOU believe,” the disciple asked the rabbi, “that God created everything for a purpose?”*

*“I do,” replied the rabbi.*

*“Well,” asked the disciple, “why did God create atheists?”*

*The rabbi paused before giving an answer, and when he spoke his voice was soft and
Peter W
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rabbi Sacks begins his book by examining Marx’s famous quote “religion is the opium of the people.” He allows that religion may be used in this way in some situations; however, that is not true of the religion the Hebrew Bible presents. “Biblical faith is not a conservative force,” Rabbi Sacks writes. “It does not conceal the scars of the human condition under the robes of sanctity and inevitability” (26). Instead, the Torah is the story of slaves escaping from bondage and emphasizes taking care ...more
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
To Heal a Fractured World, by Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, is an amazing book. This is probably the best English-language religious book I've read in a very long time - he issues a clarion call to fight the rising tide of baseless hatred via a response of baseless love, talks about meaning as something which comes from acts of service to others. I was particularly moved both by his analysis (extending Maimonides) of the difference between a Hakham (sage) and a Hasid, and by his description of ...more
James R
Nov 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a tremendously engaging, practical and inspirational book on religious ethics. Sacks is clear and unapologetic that he is writing from a Jewish perspective, and that is one of the things that I found most rewarding about it. For non-Jewish readers, of which I am one, the perspective is fascinating. Familiar stories told from another point of view take on amazingly fresh and important meanings. I read each chapter twice because each was so rich in content and implication. The world really ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: judaism
Brilliant book, by a brilliant author. Deep concepts and thoughts on every page. I am reading this with a group, including a wonderful teacher of Jewish Studies and we all take notes and learn so much from it.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, philosophy
The best book I've read in a very long time. ...more
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-favs
“Being human means being conscious and being responsible. (Viktor Frankl)1 “

I’m not Jewish, but have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the beautiful caring nature at the core of Judaism. I resonated with Rabbi Sacks conviction that faith requires action, action being looking outside of yourself to helping others and to use your level of privilege to lift the less privileged up.

“There is nothing inevitable or divinely willed about social and economic inequality. Judaism rejects the almost u
Jeffrey Cohan
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: judaism
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has won five National Jewish Book Awards.

"To Heal a Fractured World" is not one of those five. But for my money, it's the best and most important book he has written.

This book is a powerful antidote to a disturbing trend in which Orthodox Judaism has become more and more concerned about the details of halachic observance and less about Jewish values and ethics.

It's a classic case of losing sight of the forest through the trees.

Along comes Rabbi Sacks to remind us that Juda
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
The Importance of shoelaces

What to do when the world is becoming a more and more hostile place; a place where we seem to drown in big problems like increasing inequality, human and environmental ecosystems that seem to crumble and die with great speed? We should not turn inwardly, the rabbi urges us in this book. We should not seek solace in: a romantic past that never was, be the victim of new forms of tribalism, or ever stricter adherence to the halacha. We should look beyond ourselves.


Mirah Curzer
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a very well written book, and an excellent source text for Jewish ethical writings. But Rabbi Saks for some reason decided to set up his version of Jewish ethical teachings as the opposite of the classical Greeks, and in order to do that he lays out a completely wrong interpretation of Greek tragedy and philosophy. It's a shame, because he didn't have to draw such a contrast. I also take fundamental issue with Rabbi Saks' core principle that Jewish ethics requires people to take responsibil ...more
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An approachable and philosophical book about restoring religion to its true purpose—as a partnership with God in the work of ethical and moral living. Rabbi Sacks writes about Judaism's ethics to argue against hatred in the name of religion and for a thoughtful responsibility to our fellow humans. I will read this book again and again.

"Judaism is a complex and subtle faith, yet it has rarely lost touch with its simple ethical imperatives. We are here to make a difference, to mend the fractures o
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I finished this in September 2017. I don't recall when I started reading. It's not a long or even a dense book but, the subject matter is meaning-packed. This was was my "pick up and read a bit and ponder what I read " source of inspiration and motivation for a while. 2 years at least. I have numerous highlights and underlines. I am bound to return periodically to these pages again and again.
Rabbi Sacks has a very engaging readable style. I consider him one of my 'rabbis' and not just because I
Aharon Ta
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing reading on one of the most important topics and the basis of religion and meaning, Responsibility. The way the topic is explained from different perspectives apparently unified in one universal vision through spirituality and meaning is unique. Incredibly inspiring and complete with great academic level of sources and structure. Nonetheless the poetic and characteristic language helps the reader engage in the beliefs and emotions that the author pretend to share with the world. It's the ...more
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious
This book seemed directed to members of his own religion (so there was a disjointed feeling on my end-- because I am not quite the target audience). However it was still a fascinating piece of work. He creates webs of connection between philosophy, art, history, and belief.

If I could recommend any part of the work I would flip to the back of the book and read his interpretation of the book of Job and the short chapters that follow it. His treatment of suffering is compassionate yet enabling and
Jon Beadle
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars! I enjoyed this book. Rabbi Sacks is one of my personal heroes. It was nice to finally read him and see how he puts together ideas and at what level he writes. I often enjoy reading the Rabbis because they integrate so much into their thinking that one fails to get bored. I know, being bored is the greatest sin in our age, but this is not a writer who would need to be offered absolution.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wishing to understand their world and themselves.
The best way forward into a world as we wish it to be. The sub title says it all: The Ethics of Responsibility. Although Rabbi Sacks writes out of the Jewish tradition his writing apply to all time and space.
This book rewards careful reading and rereading. Amen.
Jeremy Hopkins
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Finished in Rosslyn, Nairobi
Aaron Sztarkman
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the type of books that change your life. You'll read it several times, trust me. ...more
Hinda Rochel
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Literate and life changing. Develop the skills you need to repair the world
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt, this is the winner book for me this year for Best Theology/Philosophy category. In the book I've most often quoted this year, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks asks big ethical questions: What are our responsibilities to others, to society, and to humanity? and How do we live meaningful lives in an age of global uncertainty and instability. His answers draw on an incredible variety of sources, many classically Jewish and almost as many not. As is often the case with the true prophetic voice, ...more
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt this was one of the most seminal and readable books on Judaism/yea ethics I have ever read. It has been a very long time since I took notes on a book, scribbled in the margins and turn the leaves down on particular pages. Yes it is about Judaism (and I am a Christian who wanted to know more) but it's explanation of the Bible was excellent and opened me up to some really interesting theories. I strongly recommend this book to anyone curious about religion, ethics, or how to heal a ...more
Adrian Alvarez
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
By far the best book on Jewish ethics (or even Judaism) I have ever read. Rabbi Sacks articulates sophisticated concepts using a clear, easy to follow style. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in ethics or Judaism, or to anyone who wonders why I scoff when I hear the term "Judeo-Christian."
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
This is an amazing and deeply moving book. Make no mistake, it is written from a religious viewpoint, and a Jewish one. But it speaks of our responsibilities to all people of all faiths or no faith at all. Anyone will enjoy this book. Sometime in the future, I will read it again, something I rarely do.
Joan DeArtemis
Apr 15, 2012 is currently reading it
Amazing book! I learned so much about deep Judaism, while, at the same time, I was shown practical applications for a spiritual scaffolding for virtually any religion. I would like to read it again... take copious notes...
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Rabbi Sacks does an excellent job of taking centuries of thought on Jewish ethic, and putting a lovely smiley face on it. Still, when you want to feel good about the responsibilities you have towards others and want to put a little thought behind it, Sacks is your man.
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, religion
This book is my single favorite read on religion; it's intellectually deep, soul-shaking, life-affirming, and entirely quotable. Not for the faint of heart; this book asks a lot of a reader, but gives a lot more in return. ...more
Susan Rothenberg
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very thoughtful book in which, based on Jewish text, Rabbi Sacks clearly outlines each person's responsibility to make the world a better place to live. An added side-note - two of the recomendation blurbs on the cover are from Christian groups. ...more
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish
A friend recommended this book to me, and I was captivated by Rabbi Sacks's logical and yet heartfelt argument that humans are required to build and heal the world around us. Excellent for Jewish and non-Jewish readers of an intellectual or spiritual bent. ...more
Craig Bergland
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ethics, judaism
An excellent view not only of ethics but of Judaism as well. As someone who is not Jewish, I came away with a much better understanding of Judaism and the Hebrew Bible. Immensely enjoyable and highly recommended!
Sep 22, 2009 added it
G-d can be both omnipotent and benevolent if I believe G-d also gave us free will... and needs us to take care of justice here on Earth.
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Rabbi Lord Jonathan Henry Sacks was the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. His Hebrew name was Yaakov Zvi.

Serving as the chief rabbi in the United Kingdom from 1991 to 2013, Sacks gained fame both in the secular world and in Jewish circles. He was a sought-after voice on issues of war and peace, religious fundamentalism, ethics, and the relationship between science

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