Maggid Books has released “The Intellect And The Exodus, Authentic Emuna for a Complex Age,” by award-winning author Rabbi Jeremy Kagan.
Rabbi Kagan presents keen and powerful insights into the nature of emuna in the modern world. He shows how the experience of the Exodus from Egypt teaches us to engage reality in a manner that sensitizes the various facets of our character to see creation reflected in the world around us, to become conscious of G-d through our perception of reality.
Yet the perceptual component must be complemented with an inner sense of G-d that has a genuine basis, and that basis is to be sought in the depths of self. Rabbi Kagan explains the structure of his book as follows:
“First, we will examine the mitzvah of emuna and what is required to fulfill the obligation (chapter 1).
“Then we will explore the development of human consciousness in the context of civilization to appreciate the difficulties we face in trying to achieve emuna. This will include a discussion of the mechanisms the Sages have instituted to overcome these difficulties (chapters 2-8).
“Based on this exploration I will suggest that, beyond our traditional halachic obligations, each individual needs to independently pursue personal conviction about the existence of the Creator, We will then turn to Abraham for guidance on how to do that, analyzing the path by which he came to his emuna (chapter 9).
“For reasons that we will discuss, the emuna that can be achieved in this way is both incomplete in its conviction and limited in scope. So in the second half of the book we will turn to the Exodus. We will learn how the plaques can guide us to full emuna by structuring our personality and perception in such a way that our recognition of the Creator becomes integral to our experience of self and our vision of reality.
“For all its power, however, we cannot make this vision a part of ourselves without some internal awareness to testify to its truth and anchor it in the self. We therefore conclude with an analysis of how the Jews developed exactly this in their journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai, where emuna became the eternal foundation of Jewish identity.”
Rabbi Kagan was born in Boston and raised in Hawaii. He attended Yale University, graduating with a BA in philosophy, and studied at Ohr Somayach while traveling in Israel during his college years. He ultimately received rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg.
Rabbi Kagan is currently the principal of Midreshet Tehilla, a post-high school seminary under the auspices of Neve Yerushalayim. He is the author of “The Choice to Be: A Jewish Path to Self and Spirituality,” which won the National Jewish Book Award for Modern Jewish Thought. He lives with his family in Jerusalem.