August 29, 2018
Midwest Book Review • The Judaic Studies Shelf
Compiled 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.
July 2, 2018
Elliot Resnick • Jewish Press
Translating one peirush on Chumash is hard enough. Translating 15 is nothing short of remarkable. But Eliyahu Munk has done just that. The Ohr HaChaim, the Alshich, the Akeidas Yitzchak, the Kedushas Levi, the Ksav v’Hakabalah, the Chizkuni, the Shelah, the Tzror Hamor, the Tur, Rabbeinu Bachye – all translated into English by one man.
And he’s still going strong. At age 96, Eliyahu Munk is now translating the Meshech Chachmah. Amazed at this literary output, The Jewish Press recently called Eliyahu Munk in Israel to speak to him about his life and work.
The Jewish Press: What’s your background?
Munk: I was born in Frankfurt, Germany. My father came from Cologne and taught mathematics, chemistry, and physics.
I attended Rav Joseph Breuer’s yeshiva 10 hours every week. He taught me the haftarot, and the way he made a navi come to life is something I haven’t forgotten. He had a knack of making a navi talk to you. It was a terrific thing. Read the rest of this entry »
June 27, 2018
JLNJ Staff • Jewish Link of New Jersey
In “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.”
(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.
June 26, 2018
Phil Jacobs • Jewish Links of NJ
Food is at the heart of Jewish life and culture. “From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey” spotlights food in the Torah itself, as it explores themes like love, compassion, social justice, memory, belonging, deception, life and death. Originally an online project to support the food rescue charity, Leket Israel,the book comprises short essays on food in the parsha by 52 internationally acclaimed scholars and Jewish educators, and a verse-by-verse commentary by Diana Lipton.
June 25, 2018
Rabbi Gil Student • Jewish Action
Medicine changes at such a dizzying pace that ethicists have to run to catch up. Rabbis often respond in journals and responsa that remain out of reach for the broader community. Rabbi Jason Weiner, a hospital chaplain and synagogue rabbi, combines real-world experience with extensive research to provide an overview of Jewish approaches to a wide range of medical issues. Rabbi Weiner writes for patients, rabbis and medical professionals. He therefore uses sympathetic and non-technical language that respects the patients’ experiences and provides easily understood options, supplemented by endnotes with extensive citations.
As a methodology, Rabbi Weiner attempts to survey the issues, explaining the different opinions rather than offering specific conclusions. However, when necessary he follows the rulings of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach or, in the absence of his opinion, that of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, as well as the guidance of Rabbi Asher Weiss. In addition to presenting rulings on Jewish law, Rabbi Weiner also explores the underlying values and ethical considerations that often speak more to a patient than the laws. Is prayer futile for a terminally ill patient? Rabbi Weiner explains the views of Rabbi Auerbach (yes, it is futile), Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky (it is never futile) and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (even futile prayer can be uplifting).
Writing as a chaplain, Rabbi Weiner is keenly aware of the frequent dilemma of assisting a patient who chooses a medical option that Jewish law does not allow. He offers meaningful suggestions on how to relate to a patient who requests physician-assisted suicide, or a family that wants to cremate a relative. He suggests—rather than try to convince patients and family that their preference is wrong—listen to them and empower them by offering options that provide them with the control and independence they desire. In a broader context, this is wise advice for dealing with anyone seeking religious guidance.
June 21, 2018
S. T. Katz • Boston University, Choice Reviews
This 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.