A highlight of this week’s Passover observances is the recounting of the biblical Ten Plagues. In an interesting new book, Dr. Jeremy Brown considers the Eleventh Plague, a kind of catch-all phrase he uses to explore how Jews as a people and Judaism as a religious tradition have encountered and responded to plagues, disease, and pandemics from the Bible right up to our own days of COVID-19.
In reviewing R. Yoel Bin-Nun’s “Zakhor veShamor,” Yitzchak Blau demonstrates how the book’s topic plays to the author’s strengths and interests, as it explores the Jewish calendar and holiday cycle through the prism of the agricultural reality in the Land of Israel. In its pages we encounter one of our era’s greatest teachers of Tanakh apply his fertile mind to scripture, Jewish history, and our current situation.
Reviewing the poetry of Yehoshua November, Rivka Krause identifies themes central to the religious quest: “Life is filled with pains both great and small, yet we are forced to live with purpose.” Reminding us of R. Aharon Lichtenstein’s charge that as religious individuals, poetry and literature occupy a space of particular importance in the shaping of our consciousness, Krause draws our attention to November’s work—for its aesthetic charm as well as its potential contribution to our spiritual goals.
Prof. Shalom Rosenberg z”l, who passed away two weeks ago, taught Jewish philosophy at Hebrew University and was a public intellectual and an important voice in the Religious Zionist world. Reviewing some of his essays for this week’s Alt+SHIFT, Yitzchak Blau offers an appreciation for Rosenberg’s contribution to the intellectual atmosphere of our community.