January 30, 2022

Orthodoxy and the Scholem Moment

Today, 28 Shvat, is the 40th yahrzeit of Prof. Gershom Scholem. To mark the occasion we are republishing this column by Zvi Leshem exploring the slew of books and studies recently published on the life and legacy of the path-breaking Kabbalah scholar. Leshem suggests that understanding this phenomenon can help us understand some major trends in contemporary Orthodoxy.
January 27, 2022

The BEST: Working on the Statue of Liberty 

Chaya Sara Oppenheim writes on Norman Rockwell’s “Working on the Statue of Liberty” and on the work required to preserve our liberty. Rockwell depicts a different, rare, and meaningful vantage point: We see Lady Liberty from behind, with our feet already firmly planted on American soil. The Statue of Liberty—for all the freedom and “world-wide welcome” that she symbolizes at the entrance of New York Harbor—is not the central figure in this painting.
January 26, 2022

TRADITION 54:1 (Winter 2022)

TRADITION’s new issue has just arrived with articles on the longevity of the ancients, early American Haredization, the literary unity of halakha and aggada, and much more. View the TOC and read select open-access content.
January 24, 2022

The Extremes Are More Logical But Absurd

Rabbi Lamm critiqued Modern Orthodoxy for being “too apologetic in explaining and interpreting ourselves to the outside world.” Yet, he expressed discomfort and ambivalence about the very nomenclature of the community, admitting at one point that he uses the name Modern Orthodox “only with the greatest hesitation.” Jeffrey Saks explores R. Lamm’s writings on Centrist and Modern Orthodoxy in his contribution to the “Rabbi Lamm Memorial Volume” (open access). 
January 20, 2022

The BEST: The Matrix 

Steven Gotlib compares and contrasts “The Matrix” and Jewish mystical traditions, suggesting the relationship between man and machine in the movie is fundamentally antagonistic: for one to live freely, the other must be enslaved. Our reality, however, is quite different. The relationship between humanity and divinity, as portrayed in Nefesh HaHayyim and Tanya, is one of cooperation.
January 17, 2022

Orthodox Humanities?

TRADITION’s editor recently brought a fracas roiling the halls of the Ivy League to the attention of readers of these pages. As that debate about the state and role of the humanities in American higher education has serious implications for us as a religious community, Menachem Kellner joins in and expands the conversation to its philosophical and theological first principles.
January 13, 2022

The BEST: A City Upon a Hill

Yisroel Ben-Porat profiles John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon “A Modell of Christian Charity” and its relevance to the American Jewish story: “Like the Puritans in New England, we too see ourselves as a small and distant minority meant to live exemplary lives as a light unto the nations. It is easy to read ourselves into Winthrop’s words, to hear his call for unity as a reminder of the values of tzedaka, ahdut, hesed, and other traits toward others.”
January 10, 2022

Man as an Enigma in Modern Jewish Thought

Rav Kook and R. Soloveitchik both viewed mankind as an enigmatic mystery; one saw man as paradoxical in his very nature, the other identifies the dialectical tension in his existence as the source. Natan Oliff explores…
January 6, 2022

Great Books and “The BEST” Books

There’s an interesting debate raging through the imperiled halls of the Ivy League’s humanities departments -- and it has special meaning for Modern Orthodoxy as a religious community that has classically valued the encounter with worldly, humanistic wisdom.  As the relationship of those two realms of wisdom, often framed around the concept of Torah u-Madda, is receiving renewed ideological and institutional reassessment, TRADITION's editor Jeffrey Saks takes note of trends in general higher education and society. This column is the first in a projected series exploring this topic and its importance in the coming months.