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…


Reclaiming Humanity

July 1, 2018

Midwest Book Review • Julie Summers

Reclaiming Humanity web1Synopsis: The inner world of a healthy child is filled with wonder, awe, and faith in a fair and just world. But for some children, a belief in the benevolence of the world and its people is often too hard to claim.

A unique guidebook, “Reclaiming Humanity: A Guide to Maintaining the Inner World of the Child Facing Ongoing Trauma” by Dr. Norman Fried (a clinical psychologist and a disaster mental health specialist for the American Red Cross of Greater New York) gives the reader valuable insights into the lives of children who have been victimized by chaos and disease, and teaches how to help them grow within the context of a loving, accepting, and ethical bond.

Using ‘real Read the rest of this entry »


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.


From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey

June 26, 2018

Phil Jacobs • Jewish Links of NJ

Forbidden Fruit web 2

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.


Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision Making

June 25, 2018

Rabbi Gil Student • Jewish Action

Medical Decisions web 1
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.