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The Once and Future Past

SHI-North America President Yehuda Kurtzer writes in the NY Jewish Week about ‘Judaism and its messianisms’
Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer is president of the Shalom Hartman Institute. Yehuda is a leading thinker and author on the meaning of Israel to American Jews, on Jewish history and Jewish memory, and on questions of leadership and change in American Jewish life. Yehuda led the creation of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America in 2010 as a pioneering research and educational center for the leadership of the North American Jewish community, and teaches in

The Once and Future Past

(Yehuda Kurtzer, New York Jewish Week, Jan. 24, 2012)

Jews have classically fantasized about the future in two different ways: First, for the saintly righteous, our rich mythical literature describes a “world to come” and its purgatorial corollaries. This is the fantasy of deferred gratification; life may be terrible here – especially for those woebegone righteous people! – but something great awaits on the other side. In the words of one rabbinic teaching, this whole world is but a prozdor, a hallway, through which we are passing en route to the majestic banquet hall on the other side. In their most playful teachings, the rabbis even describe the main course at this eternal feast – the flesh of the mysterious Leviathan, mentioned in several cryptic biblical texts but otherwise unknown in the natural world.


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