PODCAST: R. Yitzhak Twersky Between Law and Spirit

Tradition Online | December 19, 2021

In TRADITION’s recent Fall 2021 issue we published a wide-ranging review essay, authored by Prof. Jeffrey R. Woolf, surveying the scope and significance of the writings of Rabbi Prof. Yitzhak (Isadore) Twersky zt”l, which were recently collected and published in Hebrew as Ke-Ma’ayan ha-Mitgabar (Law and Spirit in Medieval Jewish Thought), edited by Prof. Carmi Horowitz and published by Merkaz Zalman Shazar. 

R. Twersky, who passed away in 1997, was a Hasidic Rebbe heading the Talne Shtibel in Boston, and university professor at Harvard, where he was an internationally lauded authority on Rabbinic literature and Jewish philosophy—recognized especially for his scholarship on Maimonides. But for those who know him, especially his Hasidim and graduate students (and those who could lay claim to both titles), R. Twersky was really so much more than these lines from his CV. We thought it would be enlightening to put Professors Woolf and Horowitz together for a conversation. As you’ll hear they discussed a wide range of subjects: Why translate Prof. Twersky’s English articles for an Israeli audience, and how does our understanding of the shape of his oeuvre change when the essays are gathered between two covers? What was his unique contribution to Jewish Studies? Why did he emphasize the interaction of spirituality and halakha? What is the legacy and long-range import of his work?

Watch a video recording of this conversation.  

Carmi Horowitz has taught at Ben Gurion and Bar Ilan Universities, served as Rector of the Touro Graduate School of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and of Lander Institute, as President of the Givat Washington Teachers College, and as head of the Michlalah Yerushalayim Graduate Program in Jewish Thought. Jeffrey Woolf teaches in the Talmud Department at Bar Ilan University, specializing in the history of halakha, Medieval and Renaissance Jewish History, the Philosophy of Rabbi Soloveitchik, and the interaction between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Both Professors Horowitz and Woolf studied under and completed their doctorates with Prof. Yitzhak Twersky at Harvard University.

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