December 18, 2022

Hanukka in Hazal

In this TRADITION classic from our archives: Prof. Gerald Blidstein z"l offered possible explanations for Hazal’s suppression of the Jewish Hellenizers in the Hanukka story. In a subsequent exchange of letters, a writer claimed to find several references to the Hellenizers in Hazal and locates a hint to them in Al ha-Nissim as well. Blidstein’s response challenges the identification of the "zedim and temeim" with Jewish Hellenizers, arguing that these terms refer to the Greeks. The exchange includes insightful ideas about reading texts correctly.
December 15, 2022

REPLY: Defending Heschel (and Myself) 

Responding to his interlocutors, Todd Berman defends the position he staked out in his recent TRADITION essay, maintaining that as far as the doctrine of Divine Pathos goes, Abraham J. Heschel offered an authentic reading of Jewish tradition—against the critique penned by Eliezer Berkovits in TRADITION in 1964.
December 13, 2022

RESPONSE: Considering “God, Man and History”

Todd Berman’s recent TRADITION essay defending Abraham J. Heschel from a 1964 critique penned in our pages by Eliezer Berkovits has helped to revive a six-decade old debate, no less relevant (or controversial) to today’s Jewish thought than it was back then. David Curwin and Rafi Eis push back on some aspects of Berman’s reading of Berkovits. The author will be afforded the right of reply in a few days. 
December 11, 2022

Down the Berkovits-Heschel Rabbit Hole

TRADITION’s most recent issue featured a lengthy essay by Todd Berman exploring a nearly 6-decade-old critique launched by R. Eliezer Berkovits on Dr. Abraham J. Heschel’s “Theology of Pathos.” In brief, the debate centered on Heschel’s contention that God experiences emotion after a fashion. Berkovits’ essay aroused debate among our editorial board, and Berman’s essay has evoked similar sharp differences of opinion among our readers. In advance of an exchange of letters between critics and the author, TRADITION’s editor has done a deep-dive of our archives to helped to resurface some interesting related content and context.
December 8, 2022

Sources & Resources

TRADITION’s “Sources & Resources” column, under the editorship of Yitzchak Blau, has become a regular feature of our journal over the last number of years, and reflects the broader range of Torah study taking place in yeshivot and midrashot, and in our schools and synagogues. Visit the growing library of “Sources & Resources” which are now archived for your easy access. 
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)?