December 5, 2022

REVIEW: The Great Z’manim Debate

A new book tackles complicated topics in halakhic astronomy, targeting laypeople who are familiar with the traditional rabbinic sources but who lack a background in the science. In attempting to clarify the many positions for calculating tzet ha-kokhavim, so important for many religious observances, the author (with a distinguished Haredi pedigree) demonstrates his willingness to embrace scientific inquiry and worldly wisdom in the service of halakhic observance. Tom Rosenfeld reviews “The Great Z’manim Debate.”
December 1, 2022

Genetics and Jacob’s Goats

What does a discredited theory of evolutionary biology teach us about Jacob’s attempt to influence the character of his flock’s offspring – and how did it play into a Cold War-era debate? Dive back into the TRADITION Archives to explore “Genetics and Jacob’s Goats” for this week’s reading of Vayetze (Gen. 30).
November 28, 2022

PODCAST: Sharing Torah with the World 

Yakov Nagen discusses his recent TRADITION essay, “Sharing Torah with the World: The Jewish People’s Responsibility to Non-Jews,” arguing that teaching Torah to non-Jews is the most effective way to fulfill our Jewish spiritual mission. This is a provocative thesis, since it must account for longstanding contrary attitudes and approaches, and must justify the endeavor in the face of readings of tradition and halakha which (at best) looks at such activity with suspicion, or (at worst) outright forbids it. Listen to the newest episode of the TRADITION Podcast…
November 24, 2022

TRADITION QUESTIONS: Inconvenient & Convenient Torah

Chaim Strauchler initiates the Tradition Questions Project with a reflection on the physical dimensions of Torah scrolls. They’re getting smaller. He suggests that this may be a problem: This change, while facilitating admirable popular contact with Torah scrolls, is not without halakhic problems. For our purposes it opens an array of questions, including: Who counts as an “important person”? Can such an idea persist in contemporary society? How does this trend relate to privatization of what were once communal objects (and norms)?
November 21, 2022

REVIEW: Bible Dynamics

Rav Yehudah Leon Ashkenazi (1922-1996), known by his nickname “Manitou,” may be among the most interesting figures in 20th-century Jewish thought largely unknown to American and English-speaking Jewry. In reviewing Pinchas Polonsky’s “Bible Dynamics” series, Eliezer Levine introduces us to the first successful attempt to rectify that situation. 
November 17, 2022

TRADITION Questions: Introduction

This week, we launch a new digital feature, TRADITION Questions. Associate Editor Chaim Strauchler introduces the column: “We hope that TRADITION Questions will gather thoughtful reflection on contemporary social phenomena within our Jewish communities with a spirit of curious introspection. These questions will spark conversations among our readers and within those communities about failures and successes, risks and opportunities.”
November 14, 2022

RESPONSE: Berkovits v. Heschel: 6 Decades On

Todd Berman’s recent article, reviewing Eliezer Berkovits' 1964 essay in the pages of TRADITION, occasioned a return to days gone by for our longtime editorial board member, Lawrence Kobrin. Berman examines Berkovits’ harsh critique of A.J. Heschel’s “Theology of Pathos” and Kobrin fills us in on the spirit of the time, six decades ago, helping us understand the unusual set of editor’s notes which accompanied the original essay.
November 13, 2022

Remembering Rabbi Sacks

As we mark the second yahrzeit of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks zt”l, celebrate his legacy by revisiting some of the special content TRADITION has produced exploring his thought, and read some of R. Sacks’ own contributions to our pages.
November 9, 2022

Isaac, Ishmael & Marilynne Robinson

As we prepare to read the twinned stories of the banishment of Ishmael and the binding of Isaac we revisit this installment from our The BEST series, in which our editor Jeffrey Saks offered a reading of Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Gilead." In this work about fathers and sons, and our Father in heaven and His children, Robinson (a devout Christian) puts into the mouth of her protagonist an extended homily on the Patriarch Abraham and his sons.