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Introducing Avraham Burg’s Torah Tent

More and more in our generation the Torah is claimed as the domain of a select few, whose interpretations are said to be authoritative for all. Avraham Burg reveals a new way of interpreting the weekly Torah reading, which seeks to return the Torah to its rightful owners – all of us. Written from a worldview deeply committed to Judaism, he reminds us that the responsibility for interpretation and identity rests on each and every one of us. The Torah is not in heaven but in the hearts and mouths of us all, to study and to live by.

Through this book, which the Forward is presenting in its English translation for the first time, the reader becomes involved in the language of the five books of Moses, a language that has been present in our lives for thousands of years. It is a language that is at once human, national, universal, historical and deeply moral.

This interpretation is but one of many. It is meant, above all, to point the way. The reader is invited to argue or to agree, to add or to subtract – or even better, to develop his or her own interpretation and spread it around.

To spark this study and debate, we have asked different members of our community to respond to Burg’s commentary each week. The reader is invited to join the conversation, by posting comments on the blog. We invite you to enter the tent.

About the Author: Avraham Burg is one of the best known figures in Israeli public life. Author, lecturer, television personality, politician, he was for years one of the senior members of the Israeli Labor Party. First elected to the Knesset in 1988, he built an impressive legislative record beore resigning in 1995 to become the Executive Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. He returned to the Knesset in 1999 as Speaker.

Burg’s career in public service began with the founding of the protest movement against war in Lebanon and his involvement as an activist for Peace Now. He has been an advocate for spiritual pluralism and religious equality in the Israeli society as well as for the separation of politics and religion in Israel. He has also been a staunch proponent of environmental responsibility and social justice for all.

Avraham Burg was born and grew up in Jerusalem. He lives with his wife Yael and six children in the village of Nataf.

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