Latest Essays

The Rise and Fall of Biblical Criticism

Two essays on the much heralded and perhaps exaggerated demise of the Documentary Hypothesis: R. Dr. Nathan T. Lopes Cardozo, “On Bible Criticism and Its Counterarguments” from Between Silence and Speech: Essays on Jewish Thought (Aronson: 1995). The essay is a decade old so it is missing the most recent developments. David Stern, “Recent Trends in Biblical Source Criticism: A ...

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Women’s Prayer Groups: Rav Soloveitchik’s Position

The attitude of R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (AKA R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, R. Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik, “The Rav”) towards Women’s Prayer Groups (WPGs) is a matter of contention, indeed hot debate. His opinion is very important because the proponents of WPGs are exclusively Modern Orthodox and R. Soloveitchik was largely the guiding light of American Modern Orthodoxy during the mid-twentieth ...

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On Interfaith Dialogue

There is an excellent discussion in the “comments” section of The House of Hock regarding interfaith dialogue. The question revolves around Rav Soloveitchik’s claim, in his famous essay “Confrontation”, that religious experience is very personal and cannot be communicated through dialogue. While this would rule out interfaith dialogue, it also seems to rule out intrafaith dialogue, a seemingly ludicrous proposition. ...

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Women’s Prayer Groups: R. Hershel Schachter’s Position

Prefatory Comments When a question is posed before a posek, there are a whole host of considerations for him to take into account. This is particularly true when the underlying issues are subject to dispute and can go either way. The posek, then, has the right to rule according to whichever opinions he believes to be appropriate. If a posek ...

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Women’s Prayer Groups: Coming Soon

This is just to notify readers that my current plans include initiating a discussion of Women’s Prayer Groups. The plan is to post four separate summaries of the positions of the following rabbis (in this order): R. Hershel Schachter, R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, R. Yehuda Henkin, R. Eliezer Berkovits & others. Interlaced in my summary will be my own comments ...

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Cardinals in the Beis Midrash II

In further to the discussion about the officially sanctioned visit of cardinals to Yeshiva University’s beis midrash, I thought the following analysis of R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik’s position by Prof. Lawrence Kaplan is worthy of note. This is taken from Prof. Kaplan’s article in Judaism 48:3 (1999), provocatively titled “Revisionism and the Rav; the Struggle for the Soul of Modern ...

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Judging Favorably

Over Shabbos, I was discussing with my wife the recent stories in the news about prominent members of the frum community whose sins (particularly sex-related) have been recently publicly revealed. My wife wisely said that it is incumbent upon us to believe that, if these allegations are true, these people are the rare exceptions and certainly nowhere near the norm ...

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Homosexuality in Halakhah IV

R. Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb in this week’s The Jewish Week: The position of traditional Judaism on homosexual behavior is clear and unambiguous, terse and absolute. Homosexual behavior between males or between females is absolutely forbidden by Jewish law, beginning with the biblical imperative, alluded to numerous times in the Talmud and codified in the Shulchan Aruch… Nevertheless, while the ...

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Zebu Controversy II

Another online article that discusses the issues involved in the Zebu controversy: Buffalo, Giraffe, and the Babirusa (“Kosher Pig”): The Halakhic and Scientific Factors in Determining their Kashrut Status by R. Dr. Ari Z. Zivotofsky, originally published in the Bar Ilan journal BDD, 2001.

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