From the Archives of Tradition

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tradition-cabinetby R. Yitzchak Blau

Hassidic thought often emphasizes a divine immanence that transcends differences since it finds the holy in every location. Kabbalistic ideas stress the yearning for ultimate unity. What are the advantages and pitfalls of these ideas? In the early years of Tradition, two titans of Modern Orthodoxy debated this question.

Rabbi Norman Lamm sees monism as a method towards overcoming the fragmentation of modern society and the contemporary personality. Rav Kook’s desire to integrate different disciplines within Talmud Torah is one example of this approach: link (PDF)

In contrast, Rabbi Walter Wurzburger express reservations about monism. Does overcoming distinctions reflect kabbalistic thought more than halakhic ideas? Is there an antinomian danger lurking? Does such an emphasis lead to an abdication of human responsibility?: link (PDF)

About Yitzchak Blau

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau is Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Orayta and also teaches at Midreshet Lindenbaum. He is the author of Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine: The Ethics and Wisdom of the Aggada and an Associate Editor of Tradition.

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