We tend to look at the history of Jewish life in a linear way, ignoring or dismissing the influences and the stimulators from beyond the comfort zone of traditional Judaism. But we must ask ourselves: What were the outside factors that influenced what happened on the inside? How did the Shabbetai Tzvi and Emden-Eybeschutz controversies affect how we live our lives as Jews in the twenty-first century? How did the Get of Cleves controversy influence Jewish law going forward, so that rulings arrived at today are determined by this seemingly marginal episode?
The uniting theme of Mavericks, Mystics & False Messiahs is the very individual personalities of these marginal characters and the impact they had during the time in which they lived. All the mavericks whose lives are explored in this book somehow represent – in their individuality and their unique stories – aspects of the broader narrative of their eras. What they prove, in all their fascinating oddity, is how aspects of Jewish history which occur outside of the spotlight have a residual effect on what is happening in today’s world.
“Rabbi Dunner shows his mastery of all the byways of Jewish history – the combatants, crackpots, dreamers, and tzaddikim who together embroider the Jewish mosaic. He is a wonderful storyteller with several remarkable stories to tell. So pull up a chair, put away distractions, and enter a world where the past comes to life.” – Rabbi David Wolpe
“Rabbi Dunner’s writings are marked by a profound level of brilliance, combined with a voluminous, deep knowledge of history and world events. His perspective is fascinating, his ability to contextualize, unique. On top of all that, he’s incapable of writing a boring sentence.” - Jonathan and Faye Kellerman