February 11, 2021

The BEST: “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions”

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne in “Meditation XVII.” Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz unpacks the depths of this classic prose poem and draws connections to the thought of Rabbi Sacks, who agreed that “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind.” This week in the Rabbi Sacks Bookshelves Project.
February 9, 2021

Telltale Textiles from Biblical Times

The recent discovery of several scraps of purple-dyed fabric from the times of David and Solomon opens a small but significant window into the lives of the people who lived in Eretz Yisrael in ancient times – Baruch Sterman and Judy Taubes Sterman explain.
February 7, 2021

REVIEW: The Principles of Judaism

By turning to R. Yosef Albo to explore principles of Jewish faith, Samuel Lebens provides an interesting presentation. However, Howard Wettstein suggests, Lebens accomplishes the truly noteworthy by bringing the mystical side of Jewish thought into contact with medieval and even current analytical philosophy.
February 4, 2021

The BEST: Spinoza

Spinoza correctly identified the centrality of Jewish law for the survival of Judaism, but erred in thinking that eliminating it is the path to a moral society. Daniel Rynhold explains how R. Sacks showed that maintaining mitzvot and retaining particularity is the way to secure a just society – for Jews and for humanity in general. 
February 2, 2021

Fackenheim and the Shoah in Contemporary Jewish Thought

Emil Fackenheim, known for his formulation of the “614th commandment” (never grant Hitler a posthumous victory) was an important but controversial Jewish thinker. Daniel Korobkin reviews a new book exploring Fackenheim’s thought and its enduring message for contemporary Judaism.
January 31, 2021

PODCAST: Decision-Making in Acute Critical Illness

The most recent issue of TRADITION contains “A Halakhic Framework for Decision-Making in Acute Critical Illness” by Judah Goldberg, which explores the array of complicated medical decision making required in difficult, traumatic circumstances. Rabbis Hershel Schachter and Mordechai Willig penned a “Rabbinic Postscript” which appears as an appendix to the article. Judah Goldberg joins the TRADITION Podcast to discuss his proposal.
January 28, 2021

The BEST: Bowling Alone

Robert Putnam’s well-known “Bowling Alone” is among the most cited works in the writings of Rabbi Sacks. Johnny Solomon explains how the two thinker’s ideas on civil society and social disconnection overlap. 
January 24, 2021

Orthodoxy and the Scholem Moment

The world of Jewish studies is experiencing a “Gershom Scholem Moment” with a slew of books and studies published on the life and legacy of the path-breaking Kabbalah scholar. Zvi Leshem suggests that understanding this phenomenon can help us understand some major trends in contemporary Orthodoxy.
January 21, 2021

The BEST: Language, Truth and Logic

Daniel Rynhold shows how R. Sacks identified collective structures such as religious traditions as that which creates social meanings giving reasons to pursue one course over another. In doing so R. Sacks restores the link between ethics and reason, reading against a classic essay by philosopher A.J. Ayer – This week in “The Rabbi Sacks Bookshelves Project.”