December 28, 2014
By Harry Maryles
One of the biggest assets of the Charedi community in Israel is someone that hails from a Modern Orthodox background in the United States. He is a Talmud Chacham with a fine secular education. But he has bought entirely into the Charedi mindset in Israel. I consider him a friend. And I think he would say the same about me. But one would not know that by one angry comment (among many) he made recently on my blog (in response to my own comment to him). He calls himself Dan (not his real name). I post it here in its entirety:
I’m absolutely horrified that Orthodox people don’t give a hoot about the undermining of religious issues in Israel as defined NOT by Charedim, but by ANY Orthodox Rabbi. Laws by Yesh Atid had to be blocked time and again by Bayit Yehudi because Rabbis such as *Rav Druckman* said they are anti-Torah.
Lipman has had plenty of chances to explain his views, and I don’t care what Lipman considers himself. Supporting a law that allows non-Jews to adopt Jews (and that IS part of the law, for all those falsely claiming I misrepresented; it goes BOTH ways) is supporting Shmad. Period.
He is horrified? Well, I too am horrified. I am horrified that his children (and virtually all other Charedi children) will never receive the education he did. That they will not be prepared for the outside world in the slightest. That they will be sociologically forced to sit and learn Torah for as long as possible without the slightest bit of preparation for the work force during that time.
I am horrified that the skills their own father learned in the US which affords him the opportunity for a decent job will not be available to his children for a lack of learning them. I am horrified that his children (and all other Charedi children) are being told that their first choice in life must be to abandon working for a living since there is so much Torah to learn. They therefore need every available moment of study to be geared towards that.
I am horrified that even children that are not as much suited for Torah study as they might be for some other field are being told to ignore that and continue studying Torah for as long as possible. Read the rest of this entry »
December 18, 2014
By Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom
The Tanach is that Book of Books which we claim as our legacy to the world. For multiple reasons, the in-depth study of the 24 books of Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim had been effectively removed from the Jewish curriculum for the past several hundred years. Thankfully, the rigorous and creative disciplines associated with the mastery of these Divine treasures have been revived in the last two generations.
The New School of Orthodox Tanach study owes much of its energy and direction to the pioneering work of R. Mordechai Breuer, zt”l, and to his many students in Israel and abroad. These teachers have incorporated many of the disciplines developed in the world of academia to enhance and deepen our understanding of Tanach.
This school is not really new. Teachers from Bar-Ilan University and Yeshivat Har Etzion – to name two of the proving grounds of in-depth Tanach study – utilize traditional sources, such as Talmud and Midrash, to bring their new observations to light.
The exciting and explosive growth of serious Tanach study can easily be seen every summer, where close to 10,000 students attend a five-day Bible seminar at the Herzog College in Alon Shvut. This yearly event, in its third decade, has grown from a two-day gathering of fewer than a 100 students. The lecturers are, to a one, enthusiastic in shedding new light on ancient texts through the introduction of archeology, literary theory, ancient new eastern texts and much more – and that enthusiasm is contagious as the many thousands of attendees will attest.
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December 10, 2014
by Tuly Weisz
For those who care about the future of the State of Israel and the Jewish People, To Unify A Nation: My Vision for the Future of Israel is a great and quick read. I read the entire book this past Shabbat in which Knesset Member Rabbi Dov Lipman outlines an inspiring vision for the Land and People of Israel in just under one hundred pages.
After reading To Unify a Nation I was left dreaming about the promising potential that lies in Israel and recalling fondly why I made Aliyah in the first place.
While Lipman’s book is eternally optimistic, it deals with Israeli society’s greatest challenges. He boldly addresses racism and the dignity of man, the role of religion in society, accepting all Jews, sharing national responsibility, Jewish pride, and the centrality of the Bible in Israeli society. According to the American born Knesset Member who is also an Orthodox rabbi, these values are all necessary ingredients for creating national unity in the Jewish State.
The book repeatedly calls for Jews to exhibit tolerance, spirituality, and solidarity. Lipman explains that, “I realized that polarization caused by extremism and isolationism in the religious community may be the greatest internal threat to the future of the Jewish people. All of our classic sources and basic logic dictate that the key to our success as a nation is unity.”
Knesset Member Lipman is uniquely qualified to address his English readers having grown up in a suburb of Washington D.C. and immigrating to Israel in 2004. Amazingly, he became a member of the Knesset in 2013, only 9 years after moving to Israel, proving to be a role model for all recent American immigrants to Israel.
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December 7, 2014
by Dov Peretz Elkins
Sages of the Talmud is a collection of biographical information about the authors of the Talmud. Itcontains about four hundred entries and hundreds of anecdotes about the sages, all as recorded in the Talmud itself. An indispensable book for the student of the Talmud, it is not only an excellent practical reference guide, but also a text of general interest that may be read for enjoyment. This reference work cites the source of each quotation in the Talmud. The fascinating anecdotes and stories give readers an idea of the kind of social environment in which the sage lived. The work also includes an appendix with the corresponding general history of the time so that the reader can understand the contemporary political climate.
In the Talmud, several sages share the same name. This can be confusing to students, who wonder which rabbi made a particular statement. The author removes this confusion by linking each story and citation to the correct talmudic sage. Although the names of the sages sometimes appear close to one another in the Talmud, they did not necessarily live in the same time period – some lived hundreds of years apart. The book clarifies important questions, including the period of time in which the sages lived, who their teachers or significant colleagues were, and the house of study or city associated with them.
Find It in the Talmud is a reference book and all-encompassing encyclopedia on the Babylonian Talmud. With over 6,000 entries, Find It in the Talmud is a pathfinder for students and a useful tool for scholars searching for subjects discussed in the Talmud.
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December 4, 2014
By Chana Vishnitzer
It’s taken me nearly three years to read a book.
I typically read five books a week, so this is pretty unusual. The book in question is special. It’s like fine wine. One is meant to sip at it, consider the flavor, delicately swish it from side to side in one’s mouth. It’s not like soda, where you swig it back and chug it down. No, it’s something that’s meant to be considered, enjoyed, absorbed.
The book is entitled Majesty and Humility: The Thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and is written by Rabbi Reuven Ziegler.
Those of you who are used to the TAC/SOY Seforim Sale may be thinking: “Do we really need another Rav book?” The subject of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik is exhaustively covered from all angles within the Modern Orthodox world. We know about important moments in his life, have copies of his shiurim, written works published during his lifetime and afterwards, and even have insights provided by his shamashim. So what can this book provide that the others don’t?
The answer is: a lot.
That’s because Majesty and Humility is a different kind of Rav book. It’s a book that aims to make sense of the Rav’s overarching philosophy and to trace his thought and its development across all of his works. It seeks to either resolve contradictions or assert that the Rav’s thinking changed over time when it seems like certain ideas may not mesh with one another. While those of us who read the Rav in school are generally familiar with Halakhic Man and The Lonely Man of Faith, unless one has put in a great deal of effort and research, one is probably not aware of the scope and breadth of all the Rav’s works and the thought that binds them together. Unlike the layperson, Ziegler is eminently aware of the scope and breadth of the Rav’s works. His extremely well-researched book is filled with footnotes and references to other works, and each segment ends with a helpful section called “For Further Reference” that elaborates upon ideas mentioned in that section. Read the rest of this entry »