February 25, 2024

REVIEW: Neve Shalom on Rav Saadia

The great twentieth-century Yemenite sage and scholar, Rabbi Amram Korah (1871-1952), left behind an important work on Rav Saadia Gaon’s tenth-century Tafsir, his Torah commentary and biblical translation to Judeo-Arabic. Nahem Ilan has now produced the first full edition with useful annotations and introduction. Carmiel Cohen, in reviewing the book, shows how Ilan unlocks Korah’s gateway to the thought and writing of R. Saadia.
February 22, 2024

Alt+SHIFT: Haredi Draft

Exempting Haredi yeshiva students from military service generated contention already at Israel’s founding, but the current war has more powerfully brought this issue to the fore. In this installment of Alt+SHIFT, Yitzchak Blau outlines the background of this governmental policy, some of the many attempts to change it, and the impact this has had on Israeli society. The various reasons why this issue may be coming to a head right now should be obvious to reader.
February 20, 2024

Noahide Laws: Civilization’s Foundation or Religious Identity?

Are the Seven Noahide Laws the parameters of an intended religion for Gentiles—or, as Yakov Nagen suggests, are they a means to rein in man’s destructive tendencies and preserve the world from obliteration? If murder corrupts all reality, as it did at the time of the Flood, and as it is now doing through Hamas and Hezbollah, how to these laws aim to serve as a corrective? Consider how the Noahide mitzvot join humanity into a stewardship that protects the fabric connecting human society with God, man, animal, and plant.
February 18, 2024

PODCAST: A Colonial Protestant Rabbi at Harvard

Yisroel Ben-Porat’s recent TRADITION essay offered an historical investigation of an enigmatic 18th-century figure, “Rabbi” Judah Monis—the first Jewish-born faculty member at Harvard, where he taught Hebrew for almost four decades. Monis converted in advance of his appointment, but seems to have maintained a complicated relationship with the Judaism he tried to leave behind. The Tradition Podcast spoke with Ben-Porat about this little-known chapter which opens very many questions about early (and contemporary) American Jewish identity.