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    Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

 

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  • MeOtzar HoRav: Selected Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik # 02

    Worship of the Heart

    Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

    Shalom Carmy

    "Prayer, indeed, is the symbolic portrayal of a range of experiences that form the ecstatic state of mind. Is such an exalted experience something in which every human being may share; or is it confined to the religious genius - a curious and unique type of personality who is capable of attaining this ecstatic state of mind, of rapture and unification, a personality who rejects what seems clearly, logically and tangibly to be the natural order, for the sake of tending a reality which is beyond one's grasp? Is prayer only for the mystic? We, in contrast to the mystic, are all physically and mentally children of this external concrete world and therefore, if this be true, cannot make the leap from the sensuous and real into the transcendent and absolute....

    "What then does avodah she-ba-lev mean for us, with our unmystical bent of mind that tends toward the real and practical? Can we achieve the kavvanah of tefillah in our ordinary modest way though we are not able to embark upon the great and strange adventure of the spirit? Of course the answer must be formulated in the affirmative, for otherwise tefillah would be the exclusive privilege of the imaginative genius, the mystic, and, as such, would be denied to ordinary man.Such an assertion would contradict the very essence of the Halakhah, which is an exoteric discipline to be practiced by the philosopher and simpleton, the poet and the dull person alike."

    ~ Excerpted from Worship of the Heart

    The biblical command to serve God "with all your heart" is interpreted by Jewish tradition to refer to prayer. The Rav here explores the crucial interface between living religious experience and halakhic norms --the hallmark of his work. He analyzes the Amidah, the Shema, and other biblical and liturgical texts, and also considers the tension between human dependence and exaltation, the ethical and the aesthetic, the presence and absence of God, and the yearning for stability and the desire for change.

    ~ Excerpted from Worship of the Heart

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  • 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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