Excavating the Thought of Rabbi Lamm

Tradition Online | October 18, 2021

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Since his passing over a year ago much has been said and written about R. Norman Lamm’s life and legacy; much more will surely be added in the years and decades to come in evaluating his impact and enduring intellectual bequest. How could it be otherwise? R. Lamm possessed a complex constellation of talents and filled a bevy of roles in the life of his community. How many others could lay claim to a lasting legacy as a rabbi, preacher, and teacher; scholar and writer; public intellectual and spokesman; thinker and philosopher; university president and rosh ha-yeshiva; and many other roles as well?

The Rabbi Norman Lamm Memorial Volume has just released with 35 essays by our community’s leading scholars, each essay exploring a different facet of R. Lamm’s written record. Read the volume’s introduction by our editor R. Jeffrey Saks.

In our desire to assess this rich and multifarious person, and his thought, TRADITION has assembled this collection. The essays consider the monumental record of R. Lamm’s writings in fields as varied as the man himself: Classical lomdus and Jewish philosophy; the interface of Torah and worldly wisdom; scholarship on Hasidism and on the ideology and theology of its opponents; Modern Orthodoxy’s relationship with our brethren to the denominational right and left; faith, community, marriage and family, morality, education, the rabbinate and leadership, Israel and Zionism, and the Holocaust (and this is far from an exhaustive catalog). In the global public sphere, he tackled matters of interfaith relations, and addressed the significance of Judaism’s moral and philosophical teachings for civil and Constitutional law, and for contemporary science (even science fiction). His writings constitute the testament of a man teaching, preaching to, and goading his particular religious community, who also always looked outward—communicating a message to the wider world and encouraging us to do so as well.

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