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 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
simplicity, straightforwardness, and heartfulness, ”Dr. Benjy” presents an
approach culled from the teachings of the great Jewish spiritual masters that
span thousands of years.
Continue reading “Living in the Presence” →
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.
Continue reading “Rabbi Dr. Kanarfogel Speaks About The Rav” →
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.
Continue reading “Faith and Freedom” →
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.
Continue reading “Insight Into Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits” →
Bracha Schwartz ● Jewish Link
The wisdom of an author can reach into your heart
and mind, shaping your views and changing your life. It is not uncommon for
people to read all the works of a writer they admire. But Dr. Reuven Mohl went
further after becoming dedicated to the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits.
Dr. Mohl, who lives in Teaneck with his wife and three children, has just
edited and published “Faith and Freedom Passover Haggadah” (Urim Publications),
where he linked passages of Rabbi Berkovits’ writings as commentary to the
Continue reading “Faith and Freedom – A Passion Project” →
Rahel Berkovits ● Pardes
Faith and Freedom Passover Haggadah presents selections of the writings of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits, one of the major Jewish philosophers of the twentieth century, as a new and meaningful commentary for the Passover Haggadah. The Seder night experience will be enriched with the reading of the traditional telling of the Exodus along with Rabbi Berkovits’ insightful and refreshing ideas that address crucial topics for the modern era.
Jewish Media Review ● Dov Peretz Elkins
Have you ever questioned the
purpose of our earthly existence? Why am I here? What is my role in the overall
scheme? And what should I do to make that purpose meaningful and fulfilling?
The answer, explains Psychologist and Mindfulness Meditation teacher and
consultant Benjamin Epstein, is by “Living in the Presence.” Living in the
present has become a therapeutic cornerstone; 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
This approach demonstrates
how Jewish tradition is extraordinary in conjoining the Divine and the mundane,
essentially postulating that the present moment–each present moment– holds
the key to connecting to the Divine. Imbuing workaday life with transcendent
meaning, this book demonstrates that our awareness of the divinity manifest
within the present moment consecrates the present with presence, and makes it
both meaningful and holy. This book is designed to introduce you to who you
are, as God made you, and to the gift God has placed within you. Living
in the Presence – a Jewish Mindfulness Guide for Everyday Life provides
a practical and hands-on roadmap to discover purpose in your life, to capture
and experience some of the benefits of the world-to-come…right now, in this
Rabbi Benjamin Epstein,
Ph.D. is an experienced psychologist, author, and speaker who blends
traditional Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) with cognitive
behavioral, spiritual, and acceptance techniques. Dr. Benjy works effectively
across a broad spectrum of age groups to enhance well-being by teaching how to
live more mindfully and in the present. In addition to his private practice and
mindfulness seminars, he spends his summers as the Director of Staff
Development and Clinical Research in Camp HASC.