Sage Advice, a new book by my esteemed teacher, colleague, and dear friend, Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, details the accomplishments of the Jewish Sages, who lived after one of the great tragedies and transitional moments in Jewish life – the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The book focuses, specifically, on the first major work of rabbinic literature, Ethics of the Fathers (in Hebrew, Pirkei Avot). Rabbi Greenberg is one of those Rabbis whom I have admired for 40 years, a man who has had a profound influence on my life and teaching.
Seeking to preserve the teachings of the Torah – the first five books of the Bible – and to show how they could be applied to everyday life, these Rabbis approached the Torah as a living tradition, one that is continually relevant to our lives but always adaptable to the challenges of modernity, challenges that certainly face us even today. Thus, it is imperative, in Rabbi Greenberg’s own words, to “study the sages, and walk in their traditional yet innovative ways if we are to respond adequately to God’s summons to humans to play an even more decisive role in [humans’] eternal partnership” with God.
Sage Advice offers just that – timeless Jewish guidelines for living a more holy life based on biblical principles. These guidelines were written by Rabbis who were faced with an ever-changing world in the first two centuries of the Common Era, and found that the Bible still offers us a model for living well and in obedience to God’s will. I highly recommend it to both Jews and Christians who seek a better understanding of the ancient rabbinic teachings, and how they can apply these ethical teachings to their lives today.