One of the major contributions to Judaism in our time by Martin Buber is the distinction he stressed between "religion" and "religiosity." Religion is the institutional, carefully structured, formal aspects of the faith community containing established doctrine and mandated action. Religiosity is the inner meaning, the irreducible spirit, the essence of the doctrine and practices of the faith community, that which constitutes the essential purpose of the institutional structure. Thus, in Buber's landmark unpacking of the life and literature of Hasidism, he pointed out that what the tzaddikim (spiritual leaders) considered decisive in the observance of religious ritual was the intent and spirit, the aim of the action, the inner purpose of the panoply of practices the faithful were engaged in. Each person was obliged to unite action with its purpose and thus develop wholeness as a truly religious personality.
This book is designed to "excavate," as it were, the "religiosity" embedded in a selection of Judaism's faith associations and religious practices.