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 Since the publication of Halakhic Man (1983), Professor Kaplan has presented us with Rabbi Soloveitchik’s previously unpublished manuscript The Halakhic Mind (1986).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