December 25, 2022

Halakha as Elaborated Upon by the Aggada and Kabbala

Coming soon on TraditionOnline: A digital-only publication of notes prepared by R. Yaakov Homnick, on a course Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik taught at the Bernard Revel Graduate School in 1946–1947. This document presents a sustained argument for the preeminence of Halakha within Jewish tradition, over and above the realms of Aggada and Kabbala. The Rav argues that the centrality of Halakha served to shift the balance of Judaism away from other modes of practice: “The greatest contribution of the Halakha was its purging Judaism of all magical, mythical and ceremonial elements.”
December 22, 2022

Mrs. Cooperman’s Shabbat

Mrs. Cooperman wishes all readers of TRADITION a good Shabbos - Rosh Hodesh - Hannuka! Revisit her classic wisdom for this Shabbat in the timeless essay of our esteemed editor emeritus, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, who taught us that old Mrs. C, unlearned as she may have been, “poured out before the Creator every Shabbat morning” a “torrent of words” which contained “a key ingredient of worship.”
December 19, 2022

Rav Kook’s Post-Modern Hanukka Miracle

The Maccabees won the battle, but did they lose the war? Modern scholarship demonstrates that Judaism was irrevocably transformed by its encounter with Hellenism, which ushered in a new way of thinking about existence and God’s place within it. Post-modern philosophers raised searing critiques of Hellenistic metaphysics and theology. In a remarkable passage, Rav Kook articulates the sharpest of these. He goes on to read the Hanukkah miracle as an allegory for the ultimate resolution to the crisis, one which anticipates key ideas of postmodern thinker Jacques Derrida. Aton Holzer explains....
December 18, 2022

Hanukka in Hazal

In this TRADITION classic from our archives: Prof. Gerald Blidstein z"l offered possible explanations for Hazal’s suppression of the Jewish Hellenizers in the Hanukka story. In a subsequent exchange of letters, a writer claimed to find several references to the Hellenizers in Hazal and locates a hint to them in Al ha-Nissim as well. Blidstein’s response challenges the identification of the "zedim and temeim" with Jewish Hellenizers, arguing that these terms refer to the Greeks. The exchange includes insightful ideas about reading texts correctly.
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