August 4, 2022

The BEST: Crime and Punishment

Through Raskolnikov’s narrative, Dostoevsky engages with deep philosophical questions regarding the relationship between tradition, rationality, and the individual. The strategy at use in “Crime and Punishment” is especially relevant to Orthodox Jews facing moral challenges today. By carefully painting the mindset of his protagonist, Dostoevsky argues that social and moral traditions and obligations ought not to be disposed of – explains Natan Levin in this week’s The BEST.
August 1, 2022

REVIEW: A New Edition of Rambam’s Guide

A new edition of the classic Hebrew translation of Rambam’s “Guide for the Perplexed” has a lot to recommend it, says Daniel Korobkin in his review. These include punctuation, glossary of technical terms, and useful indices. But, the editor’s demarcating the “philosophical” from the “pure Torah” content he does a disservice to the very task Rambam set for himself – and to contemporary students of the Guide.
July 28, 2022

The BEST: Augustine’s Confessions

Asher Oser writes on Augustine’s “Confessions” for The BEST: When he wrote the “Confessions,” Augustine was a middle-aged man looking back on his younger years. I am now close to the age Augustine was when he began to write the “Confessions.” As I reflect on my choices, Augustine’s mature awareness of God’s providence in his past helps to move me in that direction. What he experienced at the time as his own choices are now refracted in light of God’s providence.
July 26, 2022

PODCAST: Rabbi Sacks’ Pluralism Reexamined

R. Jonathan Sacks was a frequent critic of the emergence of a post-truth culture and also a life-long opponent of moral relativism. Yet, in his book, “The Dignity of Difference,” he was an ardent proponent of a form of religious pluralism. When first published over 20 years ago his position was both attacked and misunderstood—giving rise to questions about how his Orthodoxy and his devotion to objective truth were able to sit alongside his advocacy for a form of religious pluralism. Sam Lebens and Erica Brown discuss these and related topics in the TRADITION Podcast.
July 24, 2022

A 17th-Century “Jewish” Medical Diploma

Jews have had a long and storied relationship with the practice of medicine throughout history, of which little physical evidence remains. The medical diploma is one of few tangible representations of this history. As the diploma often contained Christian references, Jewish students would sometimes be permitted to make alterations to remove them. Yet adding any specifically Jewish reference to a medical diploma was simply unheard of—until now. Edward Reichman presents an overlooked 1647 medical diploma of a Florentine Jew and explores a creative example of Jewish physicians applying the lens of Torah to their medical training and practice. 
July 21, 2022

The BEST: Eviatar Banai’s “Night as the Day Does Shine”

Marina Zilbergerts writes for The BEST on Eviatar Banai’s song “Night as the Day Does Shine”: “Banai has found a way to synthesize elements of his previous self with the new, and to bridge conflicting worlds into musical inspiration. Speaking directly to the essence of our age, Banai’s music pulls the aspiration to holiness and transcendence directly from the banal ups and downs of human experience.”
July 19, 2022

TRADITION Summer 2022 Arrives

TRADITION’s Summer 2022 issue arrives with a special section on Jewish Universalism. Also in this issue: The curious case of Prozbul's disappearance and reemergence; cannabis kashrut questions; R. Esriel Hildesheimer on women's Torah education;  the relationship between fear and trust in Tanakh and classical commentaries; and book reviews.
July 17, 2022

REVIEW: The Sabbath of the Land

As we begin our observance of the Three Weeks we turn our attention to an exploration of the spiritual, halakhic, and ecological dimensions of shemitta presented in Yedidya J. Sinclair’s thoughtful new translation of “Shabbat HaAretz” by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (Maggid Books). Ariel Evan Mayse suggests that the volume is an extremely timely contribution, given the perilous potential ecological calamities humanity faces.
July 14, 2022

The BEST: “What Gorgeous Thing”

Rivka Krause writes on poet Mary Oliver and her lesson to pause for gratitude: At times, the deepest understanding comes from appreciating the simple and often overlooked things around us. Our rituals aim to ingrain a thankfulness through awareness into the Jewish consciousness. The action of blessing food before eating should lead to thoughtfulness of where it comes from and why we eat it, but it so rarely does, because we do not pause and think.