Elinor Grumet ● Yeshiva University Library Staff News
There was a very good feeling in Belfer Hall on February 24, 2019 at 4 P.M. when the YU Libraries and the Revel Graduate School co‐sponsored a Library Book Talk by Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel. The room was a lecture hall with stadium seating, and about 75 people were in the audience. The event was held in conjunction with the SOY Seforim Sale, going on in Weissberg Commons on the floor below. A poster at the entrance to Belfer advertised the event; and the SOY workers announced it on the P.A. system twenty minutes and again ten minutes before it was scheduled to begin.
Rabbi Kanarfogel’s topic was the book he recently edited with Dov Schwartz of Bar‐Ilan University on the scholarship of Rav Soloveitchik,Scholarly Man of Faith. The book’s genesis was a conference held at YU and Bar‐Ilan University on the subject. The chapters of the book were among the papers presented. A second volume, in Hebrew, is now being prepared. Rabbi Kanarfogel spent the first twenty minutes of his talk on the Rav’s “proclivities”—the work of Maimonides, especially the Mishna Torah, and the work of Nachmanides. Like those forbears, the Rav mastered the entire Talmudic corpus, plus the philosophy and kabbalah that informed those thinkers’ respective writings. Having written his Ph.D. on Hermann Cohen, the Rav also drew on contemporary thought. His knowledge was massive, encyclopedic. He remembered everything he ever read, and could expound on a single topic for hours, referring to innumerable sources, traditional and modern.
After the lecture, Rabbi Kanarfogel moved from the podium to a lively Q&A session with Rina Krautwirth of the Hedi Steinberg Library. Rina’s questions were pointed, and Rabbi Kanarfogel was interesting and entertaining. It was during this Q&A that Kanarfogel spoke of the Rav as a teacher who could gently guide his students or intimidate them with his learning.
*Watch the discussion here.