Hazony: The Ten Commandments

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life
by David Hazony

This could be the most enriching Rosh Hashanah of your life. David Hazony’s The Ten Commandments goes on sale TOMORROW! Take a few minutes to stop by your local bookstore—and buy a few, for it is absolutely the perfect gift for the High Holidays.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS combines new readings of biblical and rabbinic tales with personal life stories to offer a whole theory as to what the Ten Commandments were originally meant to convey, and why they’re still crucial for modern life. Publishers Weekly has called it “an impressive vision,” Rabbi David Ellenson has called it “a book of genuine wisdom,” Yossi Klein Halevi called it “a book of truth and beauty,” and Booklist gave it a Starred Review, calling it “a timely reappropriation of ancient moral wisdom.” For more information about the author and the book, visit Simon & Schuster’s website,

Too busy to go to the bookstore? Buy it online today by clicking here: http://bit.ly/cy5lkB Amazon and Barnes & Noble are offering major discounts!

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life
by David Hazony / Scribner, September 7, 2010

    “A book of genuine wisdom” – Rabbi David Ellenson, president, Hebrew Union College

    “An impressive vision of how to attain the good society” – Publishers Weekly

    “A timely reappropriation of ancient moral wisdom” – Booklist (Starred Review)

    “Precisely the book that needed to be written right now” – Judith Shulevitz, author of The Sabbath World

    “A book of truth and beauty” – Yossi Klein Halevi, author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God
    with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land

ACROSS THE WESTERN WORLD, the Ten Commandments have become a source of both inspiration and controversy, whether in Supreme Court rulings, in film and literature, or as a religious icon gracing houses of worship of every Christian and Jewish denomination. But what do the commandments really stand for? According to polls, less than half of all Americans can even name more than four of them. Fewer still can name all ten, or have a clear idea of the ideals they were meant to promote. For most of us, agnostics and faithful alike, they have been relegated to the level of a symbol, and the teachings they contain are all but forgotten. In Western life today, the Ten Commandments are everywhere— except where we need them most.

In The Ten Commandments, David Hazony offers a powerful new look at our most venerable moral text. Combining a fresh reading of the Old Testament’s most riveting stories and ancient rabbinic legends with a fearless exploration of what ails society today, Hazony shows that the Ten Commandments are not just a set of obscure laws but encapsulate a deeply valuable approach to life—one that is as relevant now as it was when they first appeared more than two millennia ago.

The Ten Commandments begins with a daring claim: Although they have become a universally recognizable symbol of biblically based religion, they are not, strictly speaking, a religious text. Rather than making a statement about faith or mystical realms inaccessible to reason, they contain a coherent prescription for how to make a better world. At their core stands what Hazony calls the “spirit of redemption,” which he describes as one of the two basic spiritual components of Western civilization. While the Greeks gave us the “spirit of reason,” teaching that we should be free to explore and express our views, the spirit of redemption teaches that every individual can, and should, act to improve the world. This spirit reached us from ancient Israel, in the form of the Hebrew Bible, and has stood at the heart of the most important social movements in our history.

Going through the commandments one by one, Hazony shows how each represents a poignant declaration about honesty, the self, life, love, freedom, community, and inner peace. Each commandment, we discover, adds another piece to the puzzle of how the redemptive spirit may enter our lives and help us become more caring, world-changing individuals.

Part memoir, part scholarship, part manifesto for a vital approach to life, The Ten Commandments tackles some of the most painful human questions that stand at the heart of who we are as modern, thinking people—and offers answers that are sure to start a new discussion about the meaning of one of our most enduring, yet least understood, traditions.

DAVID HAZONY is an American-born writer based in Jerusalem. His writings have appeared in The New Republic, the Forward, Commentary, Moment, The Jewish Chronicle, The New York Sun, Policy Review, the Jerusalem Post, and others. He blogs regularly at Contentions, the blog of Commentary Magazine. From 2004-2007, Hazony served as editor-in-chief of Azure, the quarterly journal of Jewish public thought published by the Shalem Center. He studied at Columbia University and received his BA and MA in Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University. In his doctoral studies at the Hebrew University, he has focused his research on the thought of Eliezer Berkovits, and has edited two volumes of Berkovits’ writings. Hazony also translated Emuna Elon’s novel “If You Awaken Love,” which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in 2007.

For media inquiries or to interview David Hazony, please contact Kate Lloyd at 212-632-4951 or kate.lloyd@simonandschuster.com

David Hazony will be touring the U.S. in September, November and February. To arrange a book event, contact him at dhazony@yahoo.com.

September 7, 2010 | Comments »

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