Diane Mizrachi, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA

January 6, 2022

Sociologist Philip Wexler dives into over 40 years of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s writings and discourses to illustrate the original insights and visions of a social and economic system that defies contemporary political categorizations. Wexler explores how the Rebbe’s Principle of Reciprocity, based on a Hasidic ethos, can avoid the worst outcomes of unbridled capitalism as theorized in Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic, and the socialist ideals of complete egalitarianism that inhibit competition, which the Rebbe sees as a vital element for social progress and individual completeness. The first three chapters set the context and background by discussing relevant sociological theories, the history and philosophies of Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidism, and the personal leadership style of Rabbi Schneerson. The final three

chapters present how the Hasidic ethos can be applied to balance individual well-being with the needs of the community and society. Schneerson’s well-known ideas on lifelong education, stressing moral responsibility and respect for diversity as the key to a healthy society, are detailed. Perhaps less widely studied are the Rebbe’s calls for justice and penitentiary reform, alternative energy development, and support for scientific and technological progress as instruments for the betterment of humanity. This is not a book of feel-good Rebbe stories that can be read in an afternoon; it demands thoughtful engagement and serious consideration. Wexler includes hundreds of citations and references for further study. Not just for Jewish Studies enthusiasts, this is a universal work highly recommended for students, scholars and leaders in the sociological, political, economic, and educational fields as well as social justice activists.

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