Family Redeemed: A Review

by Israel Drazinfamilyredeemed

This is one of about a half dozen volumes published after Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik death (1903-1993) based on writings he never published. This one, the first of the posthumous volumes, contains six essays that focus on family relationships. It is the second of his posthumous book that I read – see my review of The Emergence of Ethical Man, which is the most recently published volume. In both, contrary to the current thinking of many religious Jews, the rabbi frequently uses biblical sources that show that Judaism expects its adherents to live a full, enjoyable, and natural life. These ideas, although opposed by many in Judaism’s right wing, are not contrary to the halakhah. However, as we will see, his views about women, based on halakhah, do not reflect this open spirit.

In his essay “Adam and Eve,” he states that “man is part of nature” and must act according to its laws. “Indeed, the naturalistic formula of man – the conception of the human being as a part of nature – was a truism among Hazal (the ancient sages).” Both humans and animals “belong to nature; both sprang forth from the soil.” The difference is that humans are created in “the image of God.” This is “not a gratuitous grant…but rather a challenge.” Man “is encouraged (to use his distinctiveness) to build, to plant, to beautify his life, to enjoy his life as much as he can (within reason).” His earthly role is to create “change, improvement and progress.”

Man, Rabbi Soloveitchik writes, needs a wife. He describes a woman as Continue reading Family Redeemed: A Review”