August 7, 2016
by Jonathan Fass
en Philosophy and Halakhah, edited by Professor Lawrence Kaplan of McGill University, has a unique origin. In 1950-51, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, a leader of Modern Orthodoxy in the twentieth century, offered a series of lectures on Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed. While the lectures are not transcribed verbatim, comprehensive notes from a lecture attendee, Rabbi Gerald Homnick, provide the basis for Kaplan’s book. As a widely recognized scholar on the thought of Rabbi Soloveitchik, Professor Kaplan is uniquely qualified to reconstruct these lectures on Maimonides’ most challenging philosophical work.
To these notes Kaplan has provided both a preface and editor’s introduction of just over fifty pages. In a foreword to Kaplan’s introduction, Professor Dov Schwartz recognizes the achievement of this introduction to both impart “an independent perspective to the connection between R. Soloveitchik and Maimonides and aids the reader in understanding Rabbi Soloveitchik’s intentions and insights.” Read the rest of this entry »
August 3, 2016
By Bezalel Naor
In the late 1970s, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik entrusted Lawrence Kaplan with the formidable task of translating his classic Hebrew monograph Ish ha-Halakhah into English. Since the publication of Halakhic Man (1983), Professor Kaplan has presented us with Rabbi Soloveitchik’s previously unpublished manuscript The Halakhic Mind (1986). And now this: A student’s notes of a course on the Guide of the Perplexed that Rabbi Soloveitchik offered in Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School in the academic year 1950-1951.
Kaplan is much more than a translator or even editor of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s works. Over the years, he has emerged as a leading interpreter of Soloveitchik’s thought, as well as a gifted thinker in his own right. He is at once reverential towards and critical of his Rav’s thought. In the words of Dov Schwartz, in his Foreword to the book: “His admiration of R. Soloveitchik has not detracted from his critical sense. As a student, he transcends the scholar in him, and as a scholar, he transcends the student in him.” I would go one step further in defining the role of Lawrence Kaplan. To employ the by now famous imagery of Rabbi Hutner, Kaplan is that “singular student who has the unique ability to grasp the thought of the Rav when he is silent; when he passes from speech to silence.”
Continue reading this review on Orot.
August 2, 2016
by Lynn Garrett, PW Religion
“There also are practical resources for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Rabbi Simeon Schreiber, author of From Mourning to Morning: A Comprehensive Guide to Mourning, Grieving, and Bereavement (Urim, Nov.), says that ‘the ritual of the shivah call is important for the mourners because it gives them the opportunity to open up and express their innermost feelings about the deceased.’ He adds, ‘Shivah helps with the grieving process because it provides a cathartic release of emotions that must be expressed rather than repressed.'”
Read the rest of the article here
August 1, 2016
Did you ever want to know what Rabbi Soloveitchik’s early philosophy lectures were like? Did you ever wish to have been able to attend them?
Here is your chance.
We now have a record of one of those early courses, edited thanks to the hard work of Lawrence Kaplan professor at McGill University, who was the official translator for Halakhic Man. The new volume is called Maimonides – Between Philosophy and Halakhah: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Lectures on the Guide of the Perplexed (Urim Publications). The work is based on a complete set of notes, taken by Rabbi Gerald (Yaakov) Homnick. The original notes consisted of two five spiral notebooks of 375 pages and 224 pages. For the philosophic reader of Soloveitchik, these are interesting and exciting lectures bringing many scattered ideas into one place. Kaplan provides a wonderful introductory essay setting out and explaining the ideas in the lectures.
Click here to read the full review by Alan Brill.
July 31, 2016
by Gil Student
Tanakh: An Owner’s Manual: Authorship, Canonization, Masoretic Text, Exegesis,
Modern Scholarship, and Pedagogy
By Moshe Sokolow
Jerusalem, 2015 • 219 pages
Orthodox Jews grow up familiar with the Bible stories from hearing them during the weekly Torah readings and studying them in yeshivah. Knowing the text and characters so closely from our youth, we often fail to think about basic questions, such as where these stories come from, who wrote them and how accurately these stories are portrayed after thousands of years. We know the standard commentaries by name but often fail to ask who they were and what influenced them to explain the Torah in that way.
Every Yeshiva College student is required to take an “Intro to Bible” course that offers an overview of Hebrew Scripture and its history. I remember my experience taking that course, which was full of lively discussion and debate as we reexamined the familiar text and its commentaries. These issues touch on sensitive theological matters, which is why it is so important that the course be taught by Orthodox scholars. However, a mature understanding of the Bible requires thinking about many of these issues, especially those that arise within Talmud and traditional commentaries. Read the rest of this entry »
July 28, 2016
by Dov Peretz Elkins of the Jewish Media Review
Moadei HaRav presents a collection of shiurim and lectures (based upon student notes) by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik on the Jewish festivals, including the High Holidays, Chanukah, Purim, and Passover. Rav Soloveitchik was not only one of the outstanding Talmudists of the 20th century, but was also one of its most creative and seminal Jewish thinkers. Through these shiurim and lectures, along with his own original essays on Jewish laws and rituals, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo H. Pick provides the Rav’s insights and thoughts on the Jewish holidays. An introductory essay analyzes the Rav’s methodology of Talmud analysis.
Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Pick teaches Talmud and Maimonidean thought at Bar-Ilan University’s Ludwig and Erica Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies in Israel.
July 24, 2016
Who Stole My Religion?
I am a Jew because the faith of Israel [ Judaism]
demands no abdication of my mind.
I am a Jew because the faith of Israel asks every
possible sacrifice of my soul.
I am a Jew because in all places where there are tears
and suffering the Jew weeps.
I am a Jew because in every age when the cry of
despair is heard the Jew hopes.
I am a Jew because the message of Israel is the most
ancient and the most modern.
I am a Jew because Israel’s promise is a universal
I am a Jew because for Israel the world is not finished;
men will complete it.
I am a Jew because for Israel man is not yet fully
created; men are creating him.
I am a Jew because Israel places man and his unity
above nations and above Israel itself.
I am a Jew because above man, image of the divine unity,
Israel places the unity that is divine.
— Edmond Fleg, “Why I Am a Jew”
I fervently believe in the above sentiments and many other
positive aspects about Judaism, and I am proud to be a Jew. Judaism
has wonderful, powerful, and universal messages, and applying them
is essential to move our precious, yet increasingly threatened, planet onto
a sustainable path.
I wrote this book to urge Jews to apply basic Jewish teachings at a time
when they are needed more than ever before to the many tumultuous
crises facing humanity and all of God’s creatures. By encouraging Jews
to apply Judaism’s eternal values to current issues, I hope this book will
help revitalize Judaism and will make Judaism more attractive to many
About My Modern Orthodox Synagogue
I have been a member of Young Israel of Staten Island, a modern Orthodox
synagogue, since 1968, and I have served as Vice President for Youth,
Cultural Director, and co-editor of the synagogue’s newsletter. Over
the years I have seen the dedication of members of my congregation to
Judaism and Jewish issues. The amount they donate to charity is truly
outstanding. The acts of kindness and concern for the well-being of fellow
congregants are also remarkable, and there is always great communal
sharing at occasions of joy and sorrow. There are gemachs that provide
free wedding and other gowns, furniture, centerpieces for celebrations,
and clothing for people who need them, and there is a food pantry. There
is a unique group called Nachas (joy) Unlimited that collects money to
help cover medical expenses for ill children.
Especially commendable are the actions of the voluntary group Hatzolah,
whose members will drop whatever they are doing at a moment’s
notice – whether they are at work, taking part in a Passover seder, or just
relaxing with their families or friends – to respond to medical emergencies.
Many synagogue members make weekly visits to patients in hospitals and
nursing homes. Many of the synagogue’s young attendants work with
great compassion and dedication at special summer camps, taking care
of children with cancer and other health problems.
To continue reading this excerpt, click here.
Who Stole My Religion?, written by Richard H. Schwartz and published by Urim Publications in 2016.
This chapter was excerpted with permission by the author.