(רפאל שוח”ט, שיחות ר’ חיים מוולוז’ין עם תלמידי הישיבה (אדרא
The personality of R. Hayyim of Volozhin (1749-1821) comes to life through the accounts of the yeshiva’s students as recorded in exchanges between master and disciples. Raphael Shochat mines this largely overlooked material to portray R. Hayyim’s worldview, humor, and humanity.
(מעוז כהנא, תרנגולת בלי לב: דת ומדע בכתיבה הרבנית במאה השמונה-עשרה (מוסד ביאליק
Maoz Kahana takes on questions in 17th and 18th-century rabbinic understandings of science. While Europe was entering the scientific revolution how did poskim similarly grapple with new ways of interpreting the natural world and integrating science and faith.
(בנימין בראון, חברה בתמורה: מבנים ותהליכים ביהדות החרדית (המכון הישראלי לדמוקרטיה
The ever-prolific Benjamin Brown analyzes transitions and trends in contemporary Israeli Haredi society such as the increase in Haredi men in the workplace; innovations in the community’s education system; the Haredi press and its balance between free expression and rabbinic control; Haredi women’s increased awareness of their pivotal role in the community’s economy; how Haredi society imperfectly integrates ba’alei teshuva and grapples with O.T.D.; and much more. [Read the volume’s introduction and front-matter.]
(נתן כהן, יידיש בסימן קריאה: מלשון דיבור לשפת תרבות (מרכז זלמן שזר
Natan Cohen’s book explores transitions in the role of Yiddish in Czarist Russia, between 1860 and 1914, and the varied roles the language played in Jewish society, and its place between Russian and Hebrew as alternate languages of the Jewish population. Special emphasis is placed on Yiddish newspapers as culture agents.
(מנחם קרן-קרץ, הקנאי: הרבי מסאטמר – רבי יואל טייטלבוים (מרכז זלמן שזר
The Satmar Rebbe (1887-1979) was an incredibly influential, charismatic, and controversial leader, whose religious zealotry was unparalleled in modern Jewish history. Menachem Keren-Kratz presents this first full-length biography of R. Yoel Teitelbaum, rebbe of the largest Hasidic court and his role on global Jewish political stage.
(אברהם (רמי) ריינר, רבנו תם: פרשנות ,הלכה, פולמוס (הוצאת אוניברסיטת בר-אילן
Rami Reiner paints an engaging intellectual portrait of R. Yaakov ben Meir (1100-1171), Rashi’s grandson known to students of the Tosafists as Rabbenu Tam. Part biography, and part intellectual-social history of his era, readers gain insight into the network of Rabbenu Tam’s teachers and students, and appreciate the long-lasting impact of his halakhic rulings.
(שמואל פיינר, עת חדשה: יהודים באירופה במאה השמונה עשרה (מרכז זלמן שזר
Shmuel Feiner surveys the Jewish condition in the first half of the 18th century through the opposing lenses of the promise of the enlightenment and humanism, on one side, and religious conservativism and inwardness on the other. Through fascinating vignettes this book offers a tour of the great events and figures of the era.
(משה הלברטל, הולדת הספק: התמודדות עם אי-ודאות בספרות התנאים (הוצאת מאגנס
In “The Birth of Doubt” Moshe Halbertal explores the question of halakhic safek and lack of certainty in an array of topics: forbidden foods, ritual; purity, family status, financial law, and more. The arrival of safek as a category was unprecedented until the Tannaitic period, and the author displays how it quickly became a central feature of legalistic thinking in that era. How did Hazal craft halakhic rulings in the face of the religious consequences of lack of certainty?
(משה חלמיש, לקט פתגמים וילקוט מאמרים (אדרא
Moshe Halamish has anthologized a treasury of 600 proverbs and witty expressions from the canons of post-Hazal Jewish writing. The volume is rounded out with Halamish’s essays from his half-century of productive scholarship (and some newly published works) in Kabbala, Land of Israel studies, intellectual biography, and related fields.
(נועה ששר, גברים נעלמים: עגינות במרחב האשכנזי 1648—1850 (כרמל
In this social history, Noa Shashar describes the reality of agunot in eastern Europe between 1648 and 1850 – the stories of women whose husbands disappeared and how the rabbinic establishment dealt with their cases. Examining communal registers (pinkas kehilla), responsa literature, letters, and other documentary evidence, Shashar provides insight into the human stories behind these tragedies.
(שמחה עמנואל, עטרת זקנים: עיון מחודש בתולדותיהם של חכמים (הוצאת מאגנס
Simcha Emanual’s new book presents biographies of rabbinic scholars in medieval France, Germany, and Spain, wrestling with thorny research questions which have faced the field for generations. Among the highlights: A new look at the tale of Rosh’s immigration from Germany to Spain in the 14th century, and its impact on his halakhic worldview and influence on subsequent pesak.
(עלי מרצבך וערן רביב, הלוח-העברי הקבוע: תולדות ומבנה (כרמל
This book by Ely Merzbach and Eran Raviv, two distinguished mathematicians, examines the history and mechanics of the fixed Jewish calendar.
(עודד ישראלי, ר’ משה בן נחמן: ביוגרפיה אינטלקטואלית (הוצאת מאגנס
What were the main influences on Ramban’s thought? How did his own fascinating biography leave its mark on his philosophical positions? How did Jewish mysticism come to play such a significant role in his worldview? What did he set out to accomplish in his monumental Torah commentary? These questions and others are tackled by Oded Yisraeli in this new biography of Ramban.
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