Author Archives: 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.

From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau Rabbi Jonathan Sacks rose to prominence as the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom from 1991 through 2013 and as the contemporary Jew most successful at conveying Judaism to the non-Jewish world.  When he was still in his mid-twenties, he published an article in the Spring-Summer 1973 issue of Tradition in which he set up a ...

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From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau The tension between heteronomy (being ruled from the outside) and autonomy is a perennial question of religious thought.   Does traditional Judaism, with its powerful emphasis on halakhic obedience and subservience to God, grant value to autonomous thinking? In an early issue of Tradition (Fall 1963), Rabbi Alexander Carlebach, rav of Belfast, addresses this question. He strives ...

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From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau Can Orthodox rabbis sit on the same rabbinic boards with non -Orthodox rabbis? What attitude should Orthodox Jews have to the Conservative rabbinate? These arguments continue to this day. In the 1960s, two prominent pulpit rabbis debated these questions on the pages of Tradition. Rabbi Shubert Spero was the Rav of the Young Israel of Cleveland ...

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From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau In the summer 1989 issue, Dr. Joel Wolowelsky, longtime associate editor of Tradition and dean of students at the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School, explores various reasons suggested for opposing the establishment of Yom HaSho’a.  Issues addressed include establishing a memorial day in Nissan, commemorating tragedies outside of Tisha b’Av, the ability of contemporary sages to ...

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From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau Prof. Shmuel Shilo passed away last week and I thought it appropriate to highlight a Tradition article of his during the shiva.   Prof. Shilo graduated from YU in 1957 and then idealistically made aliyah as a single in 1958.  He became a professor of mishpat Ivri at Hebrew University.  In the Summer of 1982, Prof. Shilo ...

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From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau Rabbi Emmanuel Feldman, former editor of Tradition, was a community Rav in Atlanta for many years.   In this essay, from the Winter 1989 issue, R. Feldman explores the mizva of Pesach Sheni.   Why do Jews merit a second chance to fulfill the commandment of  korban Pesach but do not have a makeup option for other missed ...

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From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau What is the relationship between the concrete details of specific halakhot and the ideas and ideals that animate them?  Do the latter sometimes have legal force?   In the Fall 2003 issue of  Tradition, Rabbi Mayer Twersky, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, addresses a relevant position of Sefer haHinnukh.    R. Twersky  notes several examples of the “expansivity ...

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From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau What should our attitude be towards playing and watching sports?   R. Shalom Carmy provides insightful analysis in this editor’s note from the Summer 2009 issue. On the one hand, we could easily describe following sporting events as bittul zman, a non – productive use of time.  On the other hand, sports offers the opportunity for an ...

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From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau Modernity presents a unique challenge to traditional Jewry in that most of the Jewish people are not observant.   How should shomrei mitzvot relate to contemporary secular Jews?  R. Yehuda Amital, founding Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion, offers an important perspective in the Summer 1988 issue of Tradition.   R. Amital notes how halakha is often harsher ...

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From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau Professor Michael Wyschogrod, one time chairman of the philosophy department at CUNY and a member of Tradition’s editorial board for several decades, passed away last week.  He wrote two book reviews fifteen years apart that complement each other.   In a review of David Hartman’s Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest (Spring 1979), Prof. Wyschogrod argues that Rambam was ...

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