Social Vision

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Social Vision

Social Vision

Social Vision is a breakthrough work of scholarship by Professor Philip Wexler, a leading sociologist and expert on education. Wexler distills Schneerson’s voluminous public teachings, letters, and private conversations to make his ideas accessible to the general reader, and demonstrates the enduring relevance of Schneerson’s teachings to the manifold crises of modern life, politics, and culture.

Wexler delves deeply into the ways that religious ideas seminally shape society. Juxtaposed with what Max Weber called “the spirit of capitalism,” Schneerson’s Hasidic worldview is compellingly framed as a practical path that can help us create a better future for all humanity. Schneerson was not simply a religious figure, but also a great philosopher who boldly upended conventional polarizations between tradition and progress, religion and science, mysticism and society. Social Vision tells the story of how Schneerson not only channeled his ideas into a global Jewish renaissance in the aftermath of the Holocaust, but also articulated a universal vision whose influence continues to shape better policymaking for a better world.

Reviews and endorsements

“... may well become the foundation of fresh sociological thought ... a model for socially meaningful scholarly writing ...”

 — JONATHAN GARB, Gershom Scholem Professor of Kabbalah,The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


 “... consistently insightful ... this book can elevate your mind and your soul ...”

 — JOSEPH TELUSHKIN, author of Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History


“an overarching, knowledgeable and ambitious study that challenges the great divide between religion and society, modernity and theology, faith and political action, while breaking new ground for social theory.”

 —Yotam Hotam, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa


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.

Diane Mizrachi, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA

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Religion, Theology