Maimonides: Between Philosophy and Halakhah

August 29, 2018

Midwest Book Review • The Judaic Studies Shelf

Maimonides.jpgCompiled and edited by Lawrence J. Kaplan (Professor of Rabbinics and Jewish Philosophy in the Department of Jewish Studies of McGill University in Montreal), “Maimonides: Between Philosophy and Halakhah” is the first and only comprehensive study of the philosophy of Maimonides by the noted 20th-century rabbinic scholar and thinker, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Based on a complete set of notes, taken by Rabbi Gerald (Yaakov) Homnick, on R. Soloveitchik’s lectures on Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed at the Bernard Revel Graduate School, and edited by Professor Kaplan, this work constitutes a major contribution to our knowledge of both Maimonides and Rabbi Soloveitchik.

In these lectures Rabbi Soloveitchik emerges as a major commentator on the Guide. In a wide-ranging analysis he eloquently and incisively explores such diverse topics in Maimonides’ philosophy as his views on prophecy, the knowledge of and approach to God: normative, intellectual, and experiential; divine knowledge; human ethics and moral excellence; the divine creative act; imitation of God; and the love and fear of God. He also undertakes an extensive and penetrating comparison and contrast of Maimonides’ and Aristotle’s philosophical views. Over the course of these lectures develops a very profound and challenging overall approach to and interpretation of the Guide’s central and critical issue: the relationship between philosophy and divine law. This work sheds a bright light on the thought of both Maimonides and Soloveitchik — two great philosophers and rabbinic scholars. Simply stated, “Maimonides: Between Philosophy and Halakhah” is a significant and enduringly valued contribution to personal, rabbinic, community, and academic library Judaic Studies collections in general, and Maimonides supplemental studies lists in particular.

 

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Rabbinic Authority 4: The Halakhic Family, the Child’s Welfare, and the Agunah

July 31, 2018

The Plight of the Modern-Day Agunah

JLNJ Staff • Jewish Link of New Jersey

Rabbinic Authority 4

“Rabbinic Authority: The Vision and the Reality” is the fourth in a series of volumes that deal with the family, the child’s welfare, halachic divorce in general and the workings of the institution of the beit din (rabbinic arbitration) dealing with the modern-day agunah in particular.

In the event that a Jewish husband fails to give a get to his Jewish wife, in eight rulings Rabbi Warburg addresses in the following scenarios whether a wife can be freed without the giving of a get by her husband: Is there halachic validity of the marriage of a woman to a mumar, an apostate? If a husband is infected with HIV and the sexually transmitted disease is transmitted to his wife and knowingly she continues to remain intimate with him are there grounds to be mevatel the kiddushin, to void the marriage? Read the rest of this entry »


Dirty Jewess – FROM KOŠICE TO BROOKLYN

July 17, 2018

Rivkah Lambert Adler • The Jerusalem Post

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Silvia Fishbaum fought her way to freedom and a new life in America

After World War II, two Holocaust survivors settled in Czechoslovakia and had three daughters. The youngest, Sophia, “was known as the little rabble-rouser.” Born with an impulsive nature, Sophia, now known as Silvia Fishbaum, fought, practically from birth, against the limitations of her life as a member of the only Jewish family in a small Czechoslovakian village. Her memoir, Dirty Jewess: A Woman’s Courageous Journey to Religious and Political Freedom, tells the story of her life and her adventures.

Though Fishbaum’s mother worked hard at it, keeping Shabbat special and maintaining a semblance of the preciousness of Judaism was a constant challenge in rural Czechoslovakia. Even as a child, she was already accustomed to being publicly insulted for being a Jew. In Chapter 6, she describes a particularly offensive encounter with an old man on a tram in the relatively large city of Košice.

Read more…


Scholarly Man of Faith

June 27, 2018

JLNJ Staff • Jewish Link of New Jersey

Scholarly Man of FaithIn “Scholarly Man of Faith: Studies in the Thought and Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik,” Dr. Kanarfogel and his co-editor, Dr. Dov Schwartz, professor of philosophy at Bar-Ilan University, bring together the expanded studies of written works of the rav that emerged from a joint conference between YU and Bar-Ilan in 2012. Other YU faculty contributing chapters include Rabbi Shalom Carmy, assistant professor of Jewish philosophy and Bible at Yeshiva College; Rabbi Dr. David Shatz, Ronald P. Stanton University Professor of Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Thought at Stern College for Women; and Dr. Daniel Rynhold, associate professor in modern Jewish philosophy at Revel…

“In ‘Scholarly Man of Faith,’” said Dr. Kanarfogel, “outstanding international scholars examine areas of his intellectual endeavors that have not been fully explored, making the volume valuable to anyone interested in the rav’s teaching…. I have had the pleasure of investigating with my fellow scholars the forces that have shaped the distinct elements of the Jewish character.”

 

164_250_200(Courtesy of Yeshiva University) Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, has co-edited two new volumes, one focusing on the writing of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik and the other on the emergence of Jewish identity during the medieval period in Europe.


Jewish Law as Rebellion

June 21, 2018

S. T. Katz • Boston University, Choice Reviews

9789655242768This provocative book considers issues relating primarily to Jewish law (Halakah). Lopes Cardozo is a member of the right-wing religious community in Israel, so one would expect this book to offer a very conservative reading of the Halakah and its response to current religious issues within Judaism. Instead, one gets a strident claim that the Halakah is meant to challenge the status quo and prompt deeper spiritual reflection and initiatives. This is what makes the book interesting. The author argues that Halakah should be a spiritual exercise, not merely an obligation. In consequence, he is deeply interested in questions relating to human encounters with the divine, and he takes on such complex and pressing issues as conversion and kosher food. Also striking is his engagement with Jewish and non-Jewish thought more broadly: he writes about Spinoza, Buber, and the Buddha, among many others. In particular, he offers surprisingly frank criticism of the US’s most revered modern Orthodox sage, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. Lopes Cardozo writes that Soloveitchik “was not a mechadesh – a man whose novel ideas really moved the Jewish tradition forward, especially regarding Halcha. He did not solve major Halachic problems.” In the context of Jewish intellectual discussion, this is strong stuff.

Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, professionals.

 

Reprinted with permission from Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association.


Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision Making

June 4, 2018

Dr. Zackary Sholem Berger M.D. • Lehrhaus

Medical Decisions web 1Rabbi Jason Weiner, a rabbi and bioethicist who serves as a synagogue rabbi, a posek, and as a consultant on a hospital ethics committee, has done a service to the halakhically observant Jewish community by writing a clear, modern, and compassionate book about dilemmas which patients, physicians, caregivers, and hospitals are likely to face….

In general, this book is well worth purchasing and perusing for anyone interested in modern health care and Halakhah. But as relevant as the halakhic details (which I am not competent to question), are the implied messages sent by the selection of content and the manner of its presentation. The book is in English, including footnotes (compare with other halakhic texts for an Orthodox audience in which the content, or at least the footnotes, are in Hebrew). This makes the text admirably accessible — in fact, more accessible than the introduction contemplates. It’s very likely that the book will be read, appreciated, and used not just by rabbis and poskim, but by healthcare professionals, families, and patients as well.


Memoirs of a Hopeful Pessimist

June 3, 2018

Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi • Tikkun

“Reading Debbie Weissman’s memoir leaves us with some hope… whose teaching and writing in Israel and the Diaspora and commitment to dialogue between people of different faiths have had a world-wide impact…. An insight into the principles by which Debbie guides her own behavior can be seen as she adopts a modified version of Levinas’ teaching that we should see the “face of God in the Other.” “It would be enough,” she says, “if we could just look at the Other and see a face no less human than our own.”

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