Says the Talmud: the righteous (tzadikim) loom even larger after death than in their lifetimes. This must prove that David Hartman was a tzaddik (he would scoff at any attempt to apply this label to him).
On my recent trip to France and Israel, I arrived in Jerusalem from Paris on the first day of Rosh Hodesh Adar– a Sunday– and was scheduled to read Torah at our minyan in the hotel on Monday, the second day of Rosh Hodesh. When I made that commitment, I hadn’t taken into account the monthly service of the Women of the Wall, which was to take place that Monday morning as well. Had I been more conscious of it, I might have made it my business to go.
On Feb. 10, we lost a gadol (a great leader). The world was blessed for more than 80 years (1931-2013) with the presence of a hero of Torah, a progressive force for good, a religious pluralist, and an astounding teacher of ethics and spirituality. Rabbi David Hartman was my teacher and the rebbe of thousands around the world. His reach extended from secular Israelis to religious Israelis, from Reform through Orthodox, from the young to the elderly, from the homeland to the diaspora. He was a Rabbi’s rabbi, a philosopher for philosophers, and a teacher for teachers.