New Periodical: Tradition 44:2

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The Summer 2011 issue of Tradition (44:2) is out, with some explosive material (not yet online):

  • The House I Lived In: A Taste of Gooseflesh by R. Shalom Carmy – Some Orthodox Jews are uncomfortable with converts for reasons that are not racist. But discomfort with people from different backgrounds is still small-minded. I’d add that many ba’alei teshuvah face the same attitude (see this post: link).
  • Philo’s Place in the Chain of Jewish Tradition by Dr.

    Naomi Cohen – Argues that Philo was primarily a Jewish thinker. I thought R. Shmuel Belkin had settled this debate but what do I know.

  • Jewish Immigrants, Liberal Higher Education, and the Quest for a Torah U-Madda Curriculum at Yeshiva College by R. Zev Eleff – Uncovers archival material that shows the pressures facing R. Bernard Revel when setting the first YC curriculum. Irrefutably demonstrates that R. Revel rejected certain courses as spiritually dangerous.
  • Kabbalat Sabbath: Recited by the Community; but is it Communal? by R. Barry Freundel – Extended argument against “Partnership Minyanim” in which women lead the entire mixed-gender congregation in Kabbalas Shabbos. Argues that it is an obligatory service despite the many possible objections, and may constitute tefillah be-tzibbur or at least tefillas rabbim. Does not really address why that means women cannot lead, which is a topic for a lengthy essay in itself.
  • Modern Orthodox Arguments Against Television by R. Yitzchak Blau – Summarizes the psychological and sociological anti-TV literature and argues that they conflict with primary MO values such as volunteerism, independent thinking and women’s dignity. He concedes thy he isn’t totally against TV because shows like Mash and Star Trek are thought provoking. He just wants an honest assessment. Seems to me a worthy article but one that is insufficient to counter the yetzer ha-ra of pop culture.
  • Entering a Non-Jewish House of Worship by R. J. David Bleich – In short, no. On the way to that conclusion, argues that the majority of poskim hold that “shituf” is permissible for Noahides only some of the Meiri’s radical statements can be taken at face value. Disagrees with Prof. Jacob Katz, Prof. Marc Shapiro and R. Eliezer Berkovits on various points, dismisses some specific rabbis who entered churches as halalakhic lightweights, and explains the historical origin of the Chief Rabbi of England’s occasional entry to a church.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

34 comments

  1. “The House I Lived In: A Taste of Gooseflesh by R. Shalom Carmy – Some Orthodox Jews are uncomfortable with converts for reasons that are not racist.”

    Which may be part of the hidden true reasons for the attempted deligimization of many converts by recent Rabbis.

    “Naomi Cohen – Argues that Philo was primarily a Jewish thinker. I thought R. Shmuel Belkin had settled this debate but what do I know.”
    I believe that this is at least a second book by Ms Cohen on this matter-if my memory is correct Tradition had a brief review of her first book.
    I am not an expert but my lay impression is that it was Dr Belkin who was the first modern to make a major study of Philo and maintain that Philo was exclusively Jewish. Prof Wolfson was pro Jewish philo but not as much as Dr Belkin and others disagreed with Dr. Belkin-but what Gil wrote about himself is true 1000 times more for me on this matter “but what do I know”

    “Uncovers archival material … Irrefutably demonstrates …”
    Not commenting on the issue I have not read the article but archival material can be misleading-I am familiar with other books where archival material can be misleading and certainly selective use of archival material can be misleading. Irrefutably demonstrates-I wait for potential criticisms to see how irrefutably anything demonstrates.

    “Kabbalat Sabbath: Recited by the Community; but is it Communal? by R. Barry Freundel – Extended argument against “Partnership Minyanim” in which women lead the entire mixed-gender congregation in Kabbalas Shabbos. Argues that it is an obligatory service despite the many possible objections, and may constitute tefillah be-tzibbur or at least tefillas rabbim.”

    Does Rabbi Freundel likewise argue that a child can’t lead KS?

    “Does not really address why that means women cannot lead, which is a topic for a lengthy essay in itself.”
    Which is the true question and would look forward to R Freundel writing that.

    “Entering a Non-Jewish House of Worship by R. J. David Bleich – In short, no.”
    Which BTW at least according to some MO students of the Rav include all non Jewish houses of worship including mosques.

    ” dismisses some specific rabbis who entered churches as halalakhic lightweights,”
    some are as least as heavyweight as those who permit smoking.

  2. Gil,
    Belkin’s work on Philo has been much criticized.

    I think the question of whether Philo was more “greek” or Jewish to be sort of pointless. Philo’s worldview was radically different from that of Chazal, but much of his work might be reasonably integrated into post-Maimonidean

  3. Gil,
    Belkin’s work on Philo has been much criticized.

    I think the question of whether Philo was more “greek” or “Jewish” to be sort of pointless. Of course he was very much both. More important is that Philo’s worldview was radically different from that of Chazal and as such Dr. Belkin’s effort to turn him into one of the Tannaim is misplaced. However, much of his work might be reasonably integrated into post-Maimonidean “orthodox” Judaism.

  4. Ye’yasher kochakha to our Rosh Yeshiva R. Student.

    Apropos R. Freundel’s excellent article. R’ Mycroft, you are correct – I witnessed several times that a boy under bar mitzvah would lead Kabbalat Shabbat under the auspices of my late mentor R. Joshua Shmidman. Seemingly, this is a ma’aseh rav (-though I could be mistaken and I am happy to be refuted). To my mind, the halakhic question with a lady serving as a cantor stems from the concept of Kol Ishah, as recently suggested by this student on pp. 92-95 of
    http://www.wepapers.com/Papers/155211/Synagogue_Partition .

  5. >The House I Lived In: A Taste of Gooseflesh by R. Shalom Carmy – Some Orthodox Jews are uncomfortable with converts for reasons that are not racist. But discomfort with people from different backgrounds is still small-minded. I’d add that many ba’alei teshuvah face the same attitude

    Your summary misses the point of the article. R. Carmy’s main point was the common lack of religious feeling among orthodox jews such that they cannot understand why someone would throw away their former life to become jewish. That the “gooseflesh” feeling that the (imaginary?) questioner was missing according to R. Carmy.

  6. lawrence kaplan

    For a recent, learned, and balanced discussion of Philo and rabbinic Judaism, see David Winston,”Philo and Rabbinic Literature” in The Cambridge Companion to Philo, ed. Adam Kamesar. The matter is very complex.

  7. I’ve heard Louis Feldman speak very highly of Winston’s work (although I’ve also heard him speak highly of Dr. Cohen’s work). If I’m not mistaken, Winston is now working on a book titled “The Mind of Philo of Alexandria,” or something like that.

    My impression of the field is that Dr. Belkin’s views and (more recently) Dr. Cohen’s views are for the most part rejected by the majority of scholars in this field.

  8. From R. Freundel’s article (p. 43): Further, I must admit to always having been troubled on encountering someone below Bar Mitsva leading Pesukei de-Zimra or Kabbalat Shabbat. It always seemed to me that this practice diminished the importance of these sections of the liturgy. The only rationale I can find is that since there is a rabbinic mitsva of ginning – of educating a child to perform the mitsvot that he will need to fulfill as an adult – a child could, therefore, be used in the prayer leader’s role in those parts of the service that are more generally derived from custom than fromm rabbinic law.

  9. lawrence kaplan

    Jerry: Yes, you are right. But Winston points out that while Philo read Scripture through the lenses of Platonic philosophy, he does seem to be aware of some early Palestinian halakhic traditions. Also, his view of repentance seems influenced by rabbinic doctrine, although it assumes a philosophical coloration as well. Of particular importance: “In contrast to the supremely creative role of the Philonic Moses, the rabbinic Moses is reduced to a mere scribal functionary.

    Philo’s view that the 10 commandments serve as organizing principle for the “special laws” has, pace Wolfson, no parallel in rabbinic literature, though the idea it is picked up in Saadya, IIRC.

  10. Why isn’t it online right away? Is Tradition actively trying to minimize its audience?

  11. To confirm Mori VeRebbi R. Kaplan’s report that Rav Saadya Ga’aon believed all the mitzvot are encapsulated within the Decalogue: Mishnah Berurah, OC 494, se’if katan 12
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=49627&st=&pgnum=202

  12. lawrence kaplan

    Curious: Evidently, yes. Actually it’s not put on-line at all, never mind not just right away.

  13. lawrence kaplan

    Rabbi Spira : Thanks for the reference and for providing a new example of a phenomenon much discussed on this blog. We know Nakh through Gemara, Gemara through Rishonim, etc. And– now–Saadya through the Mishnah Berurah!

  14. Dr. Kaplan: I’ll have to read the Cambridge Companion piece. Thank you for the reference.

    One advance question (and I’ll settle for an ayyen sham if need be): how does Winston determine that the direction of influence in terms of repentance runs Rabbis (all of them?)-Philo, rather than Philo-Rabbis, or perhaps that both had a common source somewhere?

  15. lawrence kaplan

    Ayyen Sham: Actually Winston has an entire article on the subject.

    But patur be-lo klum lo efshar. Winston’s point is that repentance does not fit into Philo’s overall philosophical world view. One cannot say that Philo got it from Nakh, since he rarely draws on Nakh. Winston writes: “A brief summary will easily show that virtually all the rabbinic elaborations of this doctrine resurface in his exposition.”

    OTOH, Winston, for some strange reason, always compares Philo with Spinoza. I think the evidence he himself cites in his various articles point to a much closer similarity to Maimonides. But od hazon le-moed.

  16. I subscribe, but the issues are sent to America. Why can’t I read it online as soon as it is published? I can understand not making it available for free immediately (although for some strange reason Tradition *never* makes it free), but for subscribers?

  17. They obviously want to wait until all the excitement dies down before releasing it online to subscribers in order to limit the impact as much as possible.

  18. R’ Curious,
    I ahare your enthusiasm to read Tradition 42:2. But fear not: excitement for Torah never dies down. As the gemara in Eruvin 54a-b states, just as with a fig tree, every time one agitates the tree one finds delicious fruit, so too every time one studies a sugya, one finds delicious insights. Thus, whenever Tradition 42:2 becomes available, it will be enjoyable.

    Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan, thank you. I admit, I’m stumped as to the exact source within Rav Saadya Ga’on. Not that I’m a connoisseur of the gaonic literature anyway (to my chagrin), beyond Chazon Ish’ reference to a ganoic manuscript in OC 39:6 (s.v. achar kakh).
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14336&st=&pgnum=118

  19. [-and of course I must mention the responsum of the Ge’onim which serves as the source for both tashlikh and kapparot, cited by Rashi to Shabbat 81b, s.v. hai parfisa.]

  20. Isn’t Rasag’a view clear from his yotzer for Shavuos, published with extensive commentary by RYF Periow?

  21. “. Seemingly, this is a ma’aseh rav (-though I could be mistaken and I am happy to be refuted). ”

    BTW the Rav was very much opposed to having less than bar mitzvah kids lead services at ein kelokeinu etc-he felt it iwas a bosha to tfilah. My impression is that the vast majority don’t agree with the Rav on that position.

  22. I have a feeling RJDB’s article on entering a church is related to a non-threatening situation where prayer is involved. The issue is Maaris Aton because there is no prohibition to enter, it just might be a problem for other Jews to see a Jew enter. There are several stories in B Avodah Xarah

  23. Professor Kaplan,
    Do you have copies of either Winston article that can be e-mailed?

  24. lawrence kaplan

    Moshe: I’ll try to scan Winston’s Cambridge Companion article and e-mail it to you.

  25. Thanks!

  26. R. Student: Thank you for the reference.

    R’ Mycroft: Thank you for the insight from RYBS.

  27. “BTW the Rav was very much opposed to having less than bar mitzvah kids lead services at ein kelokeinu etc-he felt it iwas a bosha to tfilah.”

    We know that children (not yet Bar Mitzva) were leading parts of t’filla as early as Machzor Vitry (late 11th century):

    והעמידו לפני הקהל
    ואומר ברכו. והם ענו אחריו ברוך ה׳ המבורך באותה שעה התירו אותו מן הפורענות

    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=33694&st=&pgnum=178

  28. We know that children (not yet Bar Mitzva) were leading parts of t’filla as early as Machzor Vitry (late 11th century):

    Back then, the community was much stronger, and maturity in an individual was less crucial and less recognized.

  29. Doesn’t even the Gemara allow for a katan to get Maftir, read the Haftarah, and then, as a follow-up , lead musaf?

  30. Anyone have any idea when it will be online?

  31. “Nachum on August 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm
    Doesn’t even the Gemara allow for a katan to get Maftir, read the Haftarah, and then, as a follow-up , lead musaf?”

    Nachum to be fair an interesting kasha from a maaseh-Prof RD C Soloveitchik was born the first day of Succot-his Bar Mitzvah parshah was Haazinu-obviously the Rav held that a non bar mitzvah can have a bar mitzvah.

  32. “R’ Mycroft: Thank you for the insight from RYBS”

    Of course, drashas of the Rav have to be tempered with maaseh “Nachum to be fair an interesting kasha from a maaseh-Prof RD C Soloveitchik was born the first day of Succot-his Bar Mitzvah parshah was Haazinu-obviously the Rav held that a non bar mitzvah can have a bar mitzvah.”
    I don’t know what he did on Shabbos-but I do know that RDC Soloveitchik gave a pilpul with his father interrupting him with questions and beaming when RCS gave correct answers.

  33. I am uncomfortable with the dismissive tone R. Bleich adopts towards those rabbanim (and even towards the entire pre-war German rabbinate) who did not adhere to his reading of the halacha. I suppose the only way to argue that something is unequivocally wrong is to dismiss all those who did it as being beneath consideration. He also chose an easy target when stating that the British Chief Rabbis’ church visits are insignficant – I would argue that they are very significant in that they have been approved by the London Beth Din, with a mesora on the issue reportedly going back to Dayan Abramsky.

  34. Tradition only recently developed a limited on line presence. I have heard that since Tradition views itself as a scholarly endeavor, there should not be automatic web access. Unfortunately, IMO, that argument does not make sense, especially in light of so many other Torah based journals and articles that are fully web accessible.

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