Tag Archives: Opinion

R. Soloveitchik’s Impact on American Orthodoxy

Nicht, at the House of Hock, questions what role great people really played in the growth of American Orthodoxy in the twentieth century. In the comments section, Nicht further questions the role that R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik played in that growth. I quote here from R. Emanuel Feldman’s tribute to R. Soloveitchik in Tradition (1996:4): [H]istorians will have to note ...

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Religious Hatred

I was quite surprised when I saw the letters from R. Yehiel Ya’akov Weinberg published by Dr. Marc Shapiro in The Torah U-Mada Journal. In particular, his letter (p. 118) stating that “More than Christianity hates Judaism, Judaism hates Christianity” seems bizarrely divorced from reality. My bafflement was relieved somewhat when I saw that R. Nosson Kamenetsky was also taken ...

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Judaism in Culture: Much Ado About Nothing

There has already been quite a bit of buzz about Dr. Alan Brill’s article in the recently released issue of The Edah Journal, titled “Judaism in Culture: Beyond the Bifurcation of Torah and Madda.” Frankly, I don’t see the big deal. He writes as if this were his manifesto but it seems to me to be one of the most ...

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The Academic Study of the Talmud

In every interaction I have had with R. Dr. Pinchas Hayman, a professor of Talmud at Bar Ilan and the head of the Revadim project, he has come across as an extremely level-headed and realistic talmid hakham. However, when I read his article “Implications of Academic Approaches to the Study of the Babylonian Talmud for the Beliefs and Religious Attitudes ...

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Who is a Gadol?

I came across an online article by R. Shalom Carmy: “Who Speaks for Torah – And How?” (Religious Zionism, 1989). R. Carmy addresses a number of issues in that article, one of which is Rabbinic Authority. In the course of discussing how to determine who is a gadol and if such an evaluation is possible, he makes the following insightful ...

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Good questions from Dr. Haym Soloveitchik’s article “Religious Law and Change”: When is an unreflecting faith “religiosity,” and when is it philistinism? When is cowering before a hideous death simply a failure of nerve, and when does it betoken a weakness of the spirit? When is a series of breaches – just that, and when does it signify erosion? When ...

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The Democratization of Halakhah

House of Hock very graciously mentioned this blog in a post, and I return the favor. I appreciate both the praise and the publicity, but must comment on something I found troubling in their post. In a democracy, every citizen has a vote. Judaism is not a democracy. Not everyone has a vote over what is the halakhah and what ...

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Charitable Reading

Texts do not stand on their own. Because no written work can ever be entirely clear, and the ones that come close are of an extremely burdensome length, texts require interpretation. A reader must work on understanding a text and resolving any difficulties that arise. Some written works are incorrect. Other times, however, the writer was simply unclear or left ...

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Interfaith Dialogue II

Eschewing the path of totally ignoring the events in American society, The Jewish Observer boldly addressed the topic of Mel Gibson’s The Passion in its Nissan 5764/April 2004 issue. Chosen to tackle the issue was the eloquent Yonason (AKA Jonathan) Rosenblum in the lead article titled “Passion, Prejudice, and Political Incorrectness.” Predictably, although this time plausibly, taking the opposite stance ...

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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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