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    Joseph B. Soloveitchik

picture of Joseph B. Soloveitchik  

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903-1993) was not only one of the outstanding Talmudists of the twentieth century, but also one of its most creative and seminal Jewish thinkers. Drawing from a vast reservoir of Jewish and general knowledge, "the Rav," as he is widely known, brought Jewish thought and law to bear on the interpretation and assessment of the modern experience. For over four decades, Rabbi Soloveitchik commuted weekly from his home in Brookline, Massachusetts to New York City, where he gave the senior shiur (class in Talmud) at Yeshiva University's affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), where he taught and inspired generations of students, among them many of the future leaders of Jewish communal life. By his extensive personal teaching and influence, he contributed vitally to the dynamic resurgence of Orthodox Judaism in America.



 

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  • The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening

    Joseph B. Soloveitchik

    Menachem D. Genack

    Published in Association with the OU Press
    "In my experiential - not intellectual - memory, two nights stand out as singular, as endowed with a unique and fascinating quality, exalted in their holiness and shining with a dazzling beauty: the night of the Seder and the night of Kol Nidrei. As a child I was fascinated, indeed entranced, by these two clear, moonlit nights, both wrapped in grandeur and majesty. I used to feel stimulated, aroused, inspired; illuminating vision heightened my senses, which were sharpened and liberated from all inhibitions. A strange silence, stillness, peace, quiet, and serenity enveloped me. I surrendered to a stream of overflowing joy and ecstasy."

    ~ Excerpted from The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening

    Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, known to all as "the Rav," was one of the Torah giants and seminal Jewish thinkers of the Twentieth century. For him, the Seder night was a magnificent experience, an exalted evening like no other in the year. Uplifted by the grandeur of the Seder, the Rav filled page after page of his writings and lectures with his extraordinary insights and brilliant analysis of its text, the Haggadah.
    In an attempt to convey the excitement and inspiration felt by the Rav on the Seder night, many of his most remarkable and penetrating commentaries have been collected in this Haggadah. It includes excerpts from his public lectures, from published works and unpublished tapes, as well as reconstructions of his lectures on the Haggadah and Pesah (the laws of Passover). The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening offers a glimpse into the originality and brilliance of the Rav's teachings as he uncovers new dimensions of meaning and significance in the Haggadah.


    About the Author

    Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt"l (1903–1993) was not only one of the outstanding talmudists of the Twentieth century, but also one of its most creative and seminal Jewish thinkers. Drawing from a vast reservoir of Jewish and general knowledge, "the Rav," as he is widely known, brought Jewish thought and law to bear on the interpretation and assessment of the modern experience. For over four decades, Rabbi Soloveitchik commuted weekly from his home in Brookline, Massachusetts to New York City, where he gave the senior shiur (class in Talmud) at Yeshiva University's affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), where he taught and inspired generations of students, among them many of the future leaders of all areas of Jewish communal life. By his extensive personal teaching and influence, he contributed vitally to the dynamic resurgence of Orthodox Judaism in America.

     

    http://www.thejewishstar.com/stories/anticipating-an-exalted-evening-with-the-rav,15243
    Review by Alan Jay Gerber, Kosher Bookworm | The Jewish Star

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  • MeOtzar HoRav: Selected Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik # 11

    Vision and Leadership

    Joseph B. Soloveitchik

    David Shatz, Joel B. Wolowelsky, and Reuven Ziegler

    2 Review(s)

    Vision and Leadership, the eleventh in the series MeOtzar HoRav: Selected Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, presents Rabbi Soloveitchik's reflections on Biblical narratives and characters, beginning with the Joseph stories and the Jewish people's sojourn in Egypt and ending with the story of Moses' death on the brink of return to the Promised Land. Through careful exegesis of the verses, illuminating analyses of character, and insightful readings of midrashim and classic medieval commentators, the reflections in this book seek the underlying messages of biblical stories and an understanding of what they teach us about past and present events in the life of the Jewish people. They also shed light on broader concepts, such as the nature of justice, idolatry, spiritual authority, and Halakhic thought. 

     

    Soon after the revelation at Sinai, the Jews committed the sin of the Golden Calf. We should note that prima facie this sin was more abominable, more horrible, than the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. If we translate it into Halakhic terms, the sin of the Tree of Knowledge consisted in eating forbidden foods, while the sin of the Golden Calf touched the very essence of Judaism, namely, the prohibition against idolatry. Yet, when Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge, all future generations were struck by disaster. Adam alienated himself from his Creator and was driven out of Paradise. According to Hazal, God had intended for man to live forever, but the original sin brought about death and man became mortal. When the community alienated itself from the Creator by worshipping the Golden Calf, the consequences of the sin were not as tragic.

    ~ excerpted from Vision and Leadership

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  • MeOtzar HoRav: Selected Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik # 05

    The Emergence of Ethical Man

    Joseph B. Soloveitchik

    Michael S. Berger

    "Should we inquire of a modern historian of philosophy or of any educated person well acquainted with the history of ideas what he understands by the word 'man,' he would immediately advise us about a basic controversy concerning the destiny or essence of this being. By the sheer force of associative thinking, he would at once refer to three disparate anthropological-philosophical viewpoints: the Biblical (referred to by many as the Judeo-Christian view), the classical Greek, and the modern empirico-scientific. Pressed further, he would probably say that the discrepancy between the concepts of man dating back to antiquity - the Biblical and the classical Greek - is by far not as wide as the gap separating those two from the empirico-scientific one. As a matter of fact, he would say, we may speak of some degree of affinity, of commensurability between the Biblical and classical anthropologies. Both are united in opposition to the scientific approach to man: they set man apart from other forms of organic life."

    ~ Excerpted from The Emergence of Ethical Man

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  • MeOtzar HoRav: Selected Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik # 03

    Out of the Whirlwind

    Joseph B. Soloveitchik

    David Shatz, Joel B. Wolowelsky and Reuven Ziegler

    1 Review(s)

    The topics of mourning and suffering are among the most salient in the writings of Rabbi Soloveitchik, both when he describes personal experiences and when he articulates his philosophy.

    The essays in this volume powerfully illustrate the Rav's peerless ability to derive a Jewish understanding of both God and the human condition from Biblical and Halakhic sources. The Rav explores such topics as the stages of mourning, the relationship between mourning practices and the mourner's inner experience, the contrasts between individual and communal mourning, the significance of suffering, and the importance of emotions in the Jewish world view.

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  • MeOtzar HoRav: Selected Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik # 10

    And From There You Shall Seek

    Joseph B. Soloveitchik

    And From There You Shall Seek is Rabbi Soloveitchik s fullest and most elaborate examination of religious consciousness and the dynamics of religious experience. Its presentation of the challenging interplay between cultural creativity, religious practice, and spiritual quest is sure to enrich the contemporary reader. Drawing its title from Deuteronomy 4:29 And from there you shall seek the Lord your God, and you shall find Him if you search for Him with all of your heart and all of your soul and framed by the evocative metaphors of the Song of Songs, the essay charts the individual s search for God, a quest which culminates in the stage of devekut, cleaving to Him. The human being initially seeks God by examining the natural and spiritual worlds. But this search fails; hence God must reveal Himself and express His will. Rabbi Soloveitchik explicates the contrast between these two different modes of experiencing the divine: the natural consciousness, marked by freedom and creativity, and the revelational consciousness, marked by compulsion and discipline. The remainder of the work elaborates on this dialectic, exploring such themes as the imitation of God, devekut, mercy and justice, trust and fear, love and awe, the rule of intellect, elevation of the body, the perpetuity of God s word, and creation and revelation. And From There You Shall Seek is a translation of Rabbi Soloveitchik's classic essay, U-Vikkashtem mi-Sham. Drafted in the 1940 s as a companion to his earlier treatise Halakhic Man, this powerful and wide-ranging work was published in Hebrew only in 1978. Learn More
  • Yiddish Drashos and Writings דרשות און כתבים

    Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

    Yiddish was for many years the primary medium in which Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik gave his shiurim and drashos. This volume consists of drashos, speeches, and essays, written by the Rav in Yiddish between 1949 and 1958, and prepared for publication by David E. Fishman. Included are ten drashos and two speeches which have been preserved in the Rav's handwritten manuscript, and which are published in their original language for the first time. The volume also contains a series of articles by the Rav on Jewish religious values and contemporary problems of Judaism, which he published in the Yiddish newspaper Tog-Morgn Zhurnal. As Julius Berman writes in his preface, "when we open up this volume, […] those who know Yiddish will come as close as is humanly possibly to capture the experience of sitting in his presence and listening to his brilliant expositions of halakha and aggadah, drush and makhshava".

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