A Reply to My Respondents, and My Friends

Mosaic Magazine, June 27, 2013.


I thank Michael FishbanePeter BerkowitzGilbert Meilaender, and Meir Soloveichik for their generous treatment of my essay, for their serious engagement with its themes, and for their most interesting comments from which I have learned much—even where, as I will point out, I may still disagree with them. I am flattered by their kind remarks and, even more, gratified by the fact that they have for the most part not quarreled with my interpretation of the Decalogue. As it happens, I have known all four men for a long time (three of them for over twenty years), and I have worked with all of them in various contexts. It is thus more to friendship than to my essay’s merits that I attribute their gentle and solicitous ways of dealing with me and with it. For these double gifts of friendship I am most sincerely grateful.

The richness of the responses is owed partly to the unsurprising fact that each respondent has written from his own professional perspective and out of his own personal concerns and commitments—none of them exactly my own, yet all of them engaging my sympathetic interest. But beyond the distinctive insights offered by each, the overall result is fascinating, not least because the four responses, in differing somewhat with me, wind up unintentionally but profoundly disagreeing with one another.