New Periodical: Hakirah 22

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New issue of Hakirah, vol. 22 (Spring 2017):

  • Letters – Prof. Yitzchok Levine and Prof. Yehuda Brandes discuss whether children today should follow the Talmudic schedule for learning Torah
  • A Populism of the Spirit by R. Dr. Shimon Cowen – A theological-political critique of the political parties that represent hedonistic materialism, in contrast to an ethical populism.
  • Review Essay: Rabbi Soloveitchik’s Lectures on the Guide by Heshey Zelcer – Intriguing breakdown of Rav Soloveitchik’s writings into three categories – Foundation (philosophical background), Development (how to develop a proper religious consciousness), Personality (description of the ideal Jewish personality). Describes key points in the Guide Lectures and differences from other works.
  • “I am in the Middle”: Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s Vision of Centrist Orthodoxy by Dr. Alan Jotkowitz – Rav Lichtenstein’s middle position in many key social-religious issues, drawing heavily on Mevakshei Fanekha. I take issue with the middle ground between the RCA’s statement on women in Orthodoxy and the IRF position. Rav Lichtenstein was instrumental in formulating the RCA’s statement!
  • Rav Mordechai Breuer’s: “Doubts” That Aren’t translated by Betzalel Shandelman – Classic 1990 article by Rav Breuer attempting to reconstruct the history of the repetition of certain phrases in the Megillah and the word “zeikher” in Maftir Zakhor. He does heavy work but places a lot of stock in historical speculation. I think he unfairly dismisses Yaakov Ben Chaim because the latter converted to Christianity at the end of his life. Why does that taint his earlier work? That said, very convincing article.
  • The Scientific Revolution and Modern Bedikat Tola’im Trends by R. Steven Adams – Traces increased concern for bugs to the invention of the microscope. This is about history, not practice. The author does not argue the halakhah (he directs readers to R. Eitam Henkin hy”d’s Lakhem Yihyeh Le-Okhlah for that) but in a lengthy footnote describes R. David Feinstein’s fairly lenient approach to checking for bugs.
  • Did a Piyut Change the Halachah? The Curious Question of Circumcision on Rosh Hashanah by R. Dr. Yaakov Jaffe – On Rosh Hashanah, we perform a circumcision after the Torah reading, before the shofar blowing. Some medieval authorities argue this position based on legal concerns. After the First Crusade, we see a trend to argue based on liturgical and theological themes of sacrifice, martyrdom and blood.
  • Women’s Aliyyot: le-Khattehila, be-di-Avad and bi-She’at ha-Dehak by R. Prof. Aryeh Frimer – Examines the unusual cases when women are called to the Torah and explains at length and in depth why these cannot serve as bases to permit the practice as a normal rule.
  • Thieves and Robbers: The Ganav and Gazlan in Jewish Law by Asher Benzion Buchman – A thief is a heretic who doesn’t believe God is watching. A robber is someone who gives in to his passions. This explains a number of things including why Rambam includes the laws of robbery together with those of lost objects and not the laws of theft (Hilkhos Gezeilah Va-Aveidah).
  • Malmad HaTalmidim: A Suppressed Medieval Provencal Groundbreaker by David Guttmann – An introduction to the obscure, controversial and influential philosopher, R. Yaakov Anatoli, son-in-law of R. Shmuel Ibn Tibon, who helped spark the Second Maimonidean Controversy. And an overview of one essay, which is published in the Hebrew section of this journal.
  • The Religious Phenomenology of Maimonides by Bezalel Naor – The profound implications of Rambam’s comments on love and fear of God in Hilkhos Yesodei Ha-Torah 2:1-2 and Hilkhos Mezuzah 10:11. With the usual digressions that are fascinating (including a conversation with Heschel in the last year of his life about the source of the first Rambam).
  • You Can’t Hurry Love by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg – Explaining an Aggadic passage in Makos (11a) about David and Achitofel based on the teachings of Rav Tzadok.
  • The Pool of Shlomo HaMelech and the Value of Pi by Morris Engelson – A survey of the attempts to resolve the approximation in the Bible and Talmud of pi to 3 and the resulting implications.
  • Austritt–A Tale of Two Cities by Yisrael Kashkin – A critique of an essay by me on this website (“Happy Austritt Day?”) and one by R. Jay Kelman (“Reflections from Germany – Part 3”). I believe his critique of my essay consists of arguing that Rav Hirsch and Rav Hildesheimer agreed on Austritt. He neglects the points raised in David Ellenson’s article, “A Response by Modern Orthodoxy to Jewish Pluralism: The Case of Esriel Hildesheimer” in Tradition, Spring 1979.
  • What is the Connection Between the Deaths of Aharon’s Sons and Forbidden Foods? The Sermon for Parashas Tazri’a of Rav Ya’akov Anatoli (Hebrew) – edited by Ya’akov David Guttmann

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of, 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.

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