Latest Essays

Principles of Faith

R. Hayim Soloveitchik’s strong stance on the denial of a principle of faith is well known through the writings of R. Elhanan Wasserman. The following is a fascinating confirmation that I found in Making of a Godol (p. 538 – emphasis added): The closest that R’ Hayyim came to coercion according to Toras Hayim was the explanation that he gave ...

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Avodah Zarah Wigs IV

After a little investigation we determined that my wife’s nice wig contains only European hair – a combination of spending a lot of money (a gift from my mother-in-law) and my wife preferring a curly wig. All is well in my house tonight.

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Understanding the Patriarchs

R. Aharon Lichtenstein on how to relate to the apparent sins of our great forefathers: However, although we cannot deny these sins, we must view them in light of Chazal’s overall attitude toward these personalities. Generally, Chazal and the Rishonim relate to Moshe with obvious reverence… Chazal exhibit the same respect and reverence for other gedolei Yisrael, as well, depicting ...

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Administrative Message

You may have noticed that for the past few days I’ve just been posting long quotes with a few interspersed comments. I haven’t had the time to put together new material so I’m just putting up interesting things from others. I will IY”H find some time soon to blog another sugya.

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Some Tough Questions for Modern Orthodoxy

Some insights and tough questions for serious Modern Orthodox people, back from when there was a push to refer to the group as Centrist Orthodox. Unfortunately, this is the kind of self-criticism that may be cathartic but is entirely ignored and unproductive. R. Yitzchok [Irving] Breitowitz, “A Symposium on Divided and Distinguished Worlds” in Tradition 26:2 (1992), pp. 20-21: “[L]et ...

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Post-modern Objections to Academic Jewish Studies

R. Walter Wurzburger, “Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik as Posek of Post-Modern Orthodoxy” in Tradition (1994:1), p. 7 The Rav’s objection to the employment of modern historic and textual scholarship to ascertain the meaning of halakha reflects not naive traditionalism but highly sophisticated post-modern critical thought. He insists that halakha operate with its own unique canons of interpretation. According to R. ...

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Studying Heresy

There is a passage in R. Ahron Soloveitchik’s Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind (pp. 45-47) regarding the study of biblical criticism and other modern heresies. Because it is a long passage, I will break it up with short comments. The initial story about R. Moshe Soloveitchik: A professor who taught Bible in a college once came to ...

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Civil Rights and the Dignity of Man

Also from R. Ahron Soloveichik’s Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind (p. 61): From the standpoint of the Torah, there can be no distinction between one human being and another on the basis of race or color. Any discrimination shown to a human being on account of the color of his or her skin constitutes loathsome barbarity. It ...

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