"To Heal a Fractured World" by Jonathan Sacks

Brian Gongol

One-paragraph review: The conventional religious book is generally either a biographical conversion/revelation story or a long sermon to the converted. Jonathan Sacks did something radically different with "To Heal a Fractured World". Sacks, the longtime Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, wrote a book that at length seeks to explain a thoughtful place for Judaism in the modern world while making really no effort to convert or even preach to the reader. The book is substantially more about freedom and mutual obligations among humanity than it is about theology, and as a result, it is compelling and persuasive in a deeply unusual way. Sacks's gift for thinking like an academic but writing like a poet results in a book that is packed with proverbs and footnotes alike -- coexisting peacefully, as he grapples with the Bible just as deftly as with Nietzsche, Hayek, and Rawls. "Sin is rarely original, but a good deed sometimes is", writes Sacks. And the originality of his book is a testament to what a good deed he did in writing it.

Verdict: A deeply worthwhile book that will expand the reader's moral imagination