With his retirement from the editorship of TRADITION, after 15 years at its helm, and over 40 years in its service, Rabbi Shalom Carmy was honored by the Rabbinical Council of America with the publication of Divrei Shalom: Collected Editor’s Notes, edited by Avraham Wein with an introduction by Yitzchak Blau.
R. Shalom Carmy has been one of the most articulate and insightful voices in our community for decades and these relatively brief essays (initially appearing as his editor’s columns in Tradition between 2005-2019) provide an accessible window into the thought of a profound thinker. Idiosyncratic as always, R. Carmy cannot be neatly pigeon-holed into an ideological box; the reader often does not anticipate which direction he is heading. He utilizes a remarkable range of sources encompassing traditional rabbinic luminaries, the great figures of Western culture, and even Kojak’s debate with Freud about Oedipus (47:3). These essays show his curious mind and considerable intellect applied to a broad range of topics. The collection incorporates several moving eulogies and character portraits of figures such as R. Lichtenstein (48:2-3), R. Ovadia Yosef (46:4), Menachem Begin (46:1), and the author’s mother (41:1). Recurring themes include religious responses to suffering (39:2, 40:4, 43:3, 45:3), the importance of the individual (39:4, 45:1, 49:1), cultivation of religious inwardness (44:3, 46:2), and different aspects of the endeavor of Talmud Torah (41:4, 43:1, 47:3). Other significant columns address the value of following sports and the potential effect of educators making cynical comments about being a sports fan (42:2), the rewards of a career in education (42:1), an analysis of rabbis speaking about political matters (47:1), and the value of the constructive endeavor even if one is only rebuilding what was torn down (39:3).