The first tribute to Lord Sacks in his final year as chief rabbi will take place on Monday night at a book launch. This time it will be not for one of his own books — and his output has been prolific — but a collection of essays written in his honour.
Co-edited by Hampstead Synagogue’s Rabbi Michael Harris, Yeshiva University philosophy lecturer Daniel Rynhold and academic director of the London School of Jewish Studies Tamra Wright, it contains contributions from thinkers from both the secular and religious world: philosophers Michael Walzer and Alasdair MacIntyre, religious scholars Dayan Michael Broyde and Rabbi J.J.Schachter from the States, Rabbi Binyamin Lau and Aviva Gottlieb Zornberg from Israel, to name a few.
Rabbi Harris said, “We wanted it to be a suitable tribute to his legacy, not just a celebration but the beginning of a conversation about his ideas. It is based around the three themes of ethics, religion and contemporary society, and leadership which encapsulate his work.”
Dr Wright, for instance, suggests the creation of a new school of mussar, ethics, literature inspired by Rabbi Sacks’s ideas on Torah and psychology.
His oeuvre can be summed up in the phrase Torah vechochmah, Torah and secular wisdom, Rabbi Harris said. “It brings the Torah into conversation with Western literature and thought.”
While written by academics, the book has been edited with the aim of making it accessible to general readers, Rabbi Harris said.
Launches in Jerusalem and New York are ample testimony to the Chief Rabbi’s intellectual reach.