From The Hashkafah Files

Faith’s Middle Path

by R. Gil Student Title: Judaism Reclaimed: Philosophy and Theology in the Torah Author: Rabbi Shmuel Phillips Publisher: Mosaica Press Almost immediately upon publication, Rambam’s Moreh Nevuchim yielded contradictory interpretations. Some readers, including the book’s Hebrew translator R. Shmuel Ibn Tibbon, see in Moreh Nevuchim a subversive text, a book of radical philosophy hidden underneath a Torah mask. Others, including ...

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Yosef, Slavery and Morality

by R. Gil Student Sometimes we struggle to understand specific laws or passages that do not seem to fit into the Torah’s overall picture of harmony, community and connection with God. One such issue is that of slavery, which the Torah permits and legislates. The moral approach that seems most true to me, most consistent with Torah and history, is ...

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The Argument From Jewish History

by R. Gil Student I. Jewish History For his fourth and final “rational approach to God’s existence,” Rav Lawrence Kelemen, in his Permission to Believe, utilizes the argument from Jewish history. In my opinion, this is the most convincing argument for God’s existence and the most powerful, because it applies not just to some vague all-powerful being but to the ...

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Before Reb Zusia

by R. Gil Student I. Being Measured Against Others Over a decade ago, I challenged the eighteenth century Chasidic scholar Reb Zusia of Hanipol‘s famous last words. On his deathbed, he said that he wasn’t worried that the heavenly court would ask why he wasn’t like Moshe, because he could answer that he lacked Moshe’s abilities. But he was worried ...

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The Missing 160 Years

by R. Gil Student A number of years ago, my friend Mitchell First published a book, Jewish History in Conflict, describing rabbinic responses to the disagreement between rabbinic chronology in Seder Olam and that which emerges from Greek historians (and other sources). Depending on how you look at it, there are approximately 160 years missing from rabbinic history, mainly during ...

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