Review of Maimonides: Between Philosophy and Halakhah

Maimonides9789655242034by 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.” Continue reading “Review of Maimonides: Between Philosophy and Halakhah 

Review of Maimonides: Between Philosophy and Halakhah

Maimonides9789655242034By 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 Since the publication of Halakhic Man (1983), Professor Kaplan has presented us with Rabbi Soloveitchik’s previously unpublished manuscript The Halakhic Mind (1986).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.

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Review of Maimonides: Between Philosophy and Halakhah

Maimonides9789655242034Did 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.