Rabbis Shuchat, Father and Son, Launch New Books

by Canadian Jewish News Staff

Father and son rabbis Wilfred and Raphael Shuchat were to jointly launch their new books at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim the evening of Slichot, September 8.

The elder Shuchat, 92, rabbi emeritus of the Shaar, has published Noah, The Flood and the Failure of Man, the third in his series on the interpretations of the sages of the Midrash Rabbah.

His son, Rabbi Raphael Shuchat, a lecturer in Jewish philosophy and mysticism at Bar-Ilan University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has published Jewish Faith in a Changing World: A Modern Introduction to the World and Ideas of Classical Jewish Philosophy.

In Noah, the elder Rabbi Shuchat writes that, although the biblical figure was chosen by God to save humanity, the sages have some reservations about his character. “[Noah] seems to be a saintly man with many flaws,” the author writes.

He notes that, after Noah and his ark had completed their mission, one of the first things Noah did was plant a vineyard, make wine and get drunk.

“Perhaps this was one of the reasons why Noah was not chosen to stand as a beacon to mankind and God waited until someone like Abraham arrived whose character was on the highest level.”

The younger Rabbi Shuchat’s work examines how Judaism’s great thinkers have grappled with the modern world over the ages. The classical Jewish philosophers, such as Maimonides, Moses Hayyim Luzzatto and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook were top-flight intellectuals who never shrank from an issue of faith “no matter how embarrassing or heretical,” he writes.

The elder Rabbi Shuchat has been associated with the Shaar since 1945, serving as its senior rabbi from 1947 until his retirement in 1993. Among his previous publications are The Creation: According to Midrash Rabbah (2002) and The Garden of Eden and the Struggle to be Human: According to the Midrash Rabbah (2006).

His son, who holds a PhD from Bar-Ilan and was ordained in Jerusalem, is the founder and director of Project Chaverim, a Jewish identity program for new immigrants.

He has published two earlier books on the Vilna Gaon.

The original article appeared in The Canadian Jewish News.

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