Yaakov (Jack) Bieler ● Jewish Book Council
This collection of academic papers on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph P. Soloveitchik developed from a joint conference that took place in 2012 at Yeshiva University in New York and Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv. (A companion volume of Hebrew-language papers from the conference is forthcoming.) Reflecting the Torah U’madda (Torahand secular knowledge) polymath that R. Soloveitchik himself embodied, the papers represent many disciplines, all viewed from both a Jewish and secular perspective, including philosophy, hermeneutics, history, and literature.
In a wide-ranging essay, Dr. David Shatz notes that while it is commonly believed that R. Soloveitchik published relatively little during his lifetime, this view is erroneous; in fact, the Toras HoRav Foundation has been systematically issuing volumes of R. Soloveitchik’s talks, developed from audio tapes and manuscripts, that have enabled scholars and laypersons alike to delve deeply into and comment on his ideas. Many of the papers in this volume draw upon these writings. Shatz also speculates as to why R. Soloveichik has attracted much greater interest since his passing in 1993, particularly among non-Orthodox and even non-Jewish scholars. Shatz’s encyclopedic summary of the many articles that have been published concerning R. Soloveitchik’s writings provide a wonderful resource for those who wish to study these matters further. Other notable essays include Ephraim Kanarfogel’s discussion of R. Soloveitchik’s uncanny knowledge of lost German Tosafist Halachic material, and Shira Weiss’s paper appraising the influence on R. Soloveichik of the medieval thinker Judah HaLevi.
Academic papers are not written for the casual reader, and some of the terminology and citations in this volume can prove daunting. However, readers seeking to seriously engage with these thoughtful presentations of R. Soloveitchik’s vast and erudite contributions to modern Jewish thought are sure to benefit.
Yaakov (Jack) Bieler ● Jewish Book Council
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, was the universally acknowledged leader of Modern Orthodoxy during the latter half of the twentieth century, when he served as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University, head of the Halacha (Law) Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, and spiritual mentor for the Mizrachi religious Zionist organization. His passing on April 8th, 1993 left a profound void for those who looked specifically to him for brilliant and original Torah insights and methodology, guidance in halachic (legal) and hashkafic (thought) matters that have arisen due to the modern experience, and as an exemplar of excellence in Judaic and secular studies and their interaction.
This volume is a unrevised reissue of the out-of-print collection of forty-two eulogies offered by family members, former students, and admirers, which was originally published in 2003. While the eulogies contain inspiring personal recollections, words of Torah, and moving anecdotes, one wonders what those who first eulogized the Rav over twenty years ago may have wanted to add to their memorials for this incredibly great man after the passing of two decades.
Jack Mason ● Midwest Book Review
In “Living in the Presence: A Jewish Mindfulness Guide to Everyday Life”, Rabbi Epstein explains that living in the present has become a therapeutic cornerstone; that living in the presence transforms the technique into a life-changing experience.
With exquisite simplicity, straightforwardness, and heartfulness, ”Dr. Benjy” presents an approach culled from the teachings of the great Jewish spiritual masters that span thousands of years.Read the rest of this entry »
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.Read the rest of this entry »
Dr. Ari Kinsberg ● Jewish Press
Eliezer Berkovits (1908-1992) remains one of the most important Jewish theologians of the twentieth century.
Born in what is today Romania, he received semicha at the Rabbinical Seminary of Berlin (where he was the talmid muvhak of the Seridei Eish) and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Berlin. While ministering as a respected rav in locales across the globe and later serving as the beloved chairperson of Jewish philosophy at Skokie’s Hebrew Theological College, Rabbi Berkovits also published an array of essays and books on halacha, philosophy and other topics of contemporary Jewish relevance. It is unfortunate that Rabbi Berkovits’ writings are today largely unknown to the larger Jewish public, even though the wisdom contained therein remains as relevant as ever.Read the rest of this entry »
Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot ● Jewish Standard
On the bookshelves of the contemporary young and not-so-young college-educated modern Orthodox Jew, one most often will find the theological works of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and his esteemed son-in-law, my revered teacher, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, both of blessed memory.
On another shelf one will probably find works of Rabbi Norman Lamm, the former president of Yeshiva University, as well as the increasingly popular (in both senses of the word) writings of Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. On another shelf one also may find some writings of Rav Kook and in some instances the newly translated works of Rav Shagar. These thinkers rightly occupy a pride of place in the pantheon of modern Orthodox thought leaders. The dominance of these voices, however, sometimes has come at the price of relegating other significant voices from the 1950s to the 1970s that contributed significant ideas to our thinking about the engagement of halachic Judaism and the modern world.Read the rest of this entry »