Tradition Journal

Tradition Journal Tradition is the Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought published quarterly since 1958 by the Rabbinical Council of America

Over the decades, TRADITION has published a number of special issues exploring an array of topics facing Orthodoxy and i...
05/05/2020
TRADITION Special Issues Index

Over the decades, TRADITION has published a number of special issues exploring an array of topics facing Orthodoxy and involving some of the leading writers and thinkers in our community. Check out this index of our symposia on topics ranging from: Women and Jewish education; the religious meaning of the Six-Day War (one symposium at the time and another 25 years later); Orthodoxy and the public square; sexual abuse; the legacies of Rabbis Breuer, Soloveitchik and Lichtenstein; and more…

TRADITION Special Issues IndexOver the decades, TRADITION has published a number of special issues and symposia exploring an array of topics facing Orthodoxy and involving some of the leading writers and thinkers in our community. Click here to access the index of special issues we have pu

05/03/2020
FRIENDSHIP, LONELINESS, AND SHEHEHEYANU POST-COVID

Israeli musician Hanan Ben-Ari captured what Covid-19 has taught us in a recent song: “We thought… what person needs another person?… How you [Covid] have returned sanity, longings for people!" Jonathan Ziring explores the state of friendship and human relationships and imagines how the time of great reunion post-Covid will be filtered through the Shehehyahu blessing. https://traditiononline.org/sheheheyanu-appreciating-friendship-in-the-world-of-zoom/

Check out our most recent round-up of new and noteworthy books...With Adam Kirsch, Josh Teplitsky, אמנון בזק Amnon Bazak...
05/01/2020
New and Noteworthy Books

Check out our most recent round-up of new and noteworthy books...
With Adam Kirsch, Josh Teplitsky, אמנון בזק Amnon Bazak, Dov Singer, Maggid Books, Koren Publishers Jerusalem, Yale University Press, Jewish Lives

Judith Bleich, Defenders of the Faith: Studies in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Orthodoxy and Reform (Touro University Press)The Emancipation of European Jewry during the nineteenth century led to conflict between tradition and modernity, creating a chasm that few believed could be bridged. Un

What did Orwell mean by a "good bad" book"? Rabbi Yitzchak Blau describes what he got out of reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin"...
04/30/2020
The BEST: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

What did Orwell mean by a "good bad" book"? Rabbi Yitzchak Blau describes what he got out of reading "Uncle Tom's Cabin" . . .

The BEST: Uncle Tom’s Cabinby Harriet Beecher StoweReviewed by Yitzchak BlauSummary: Aside from the Bible, no nineteenth-century book sold more copies than Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly (1852). It helped energize the abolitionis

04/26/2020
David Berger: Anti-Semitism and COVID-Libels

Among the troubling phenomenon to which we are witness at this most difficult time of COVID is the appearance of anti-Semitic attitudes and actions – hearkening back to medieval accusations of blood libels well poisonings, and up to contemporary anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric, Jews have often borne the blame of plagues which affected their host societies (even as they themselves were afflicted with black plague, cholera, or today's coronavirus in equal, or sometimes greater, numbers).
In light of these disturbing trends, and in the hopes that we might learn something about our current crisis from the study of history, we turned to Dr. David Berger, Dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University, and a longtime member of TRADITION’s editorial board. Dr. Berger has dedicated decades of his distinguished academic career to the study of anti-Semitism and Jewish-Christian interactions. His writings on these topics have recently been gathered in "Persecution, Polemic, and Dialogue: Essays in Jewish-Christian Relations" (Academic Studies Press).

04/23/2020

Among the troubling phenomenon to which we are witness at this most difficult time of COVID is the appearance of anti-Semitic attitudes and actions – hearkening back to medieval accusations of blood libels well poisonings, and up to contemporary anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric, Jews have often borne the blame of plagues which affected their host societies (even as they themselves were afflicted with black plague, cholera, or today's coronavirus in equal, or sometimes greater, numbers).
In light of these disturbing trends, and in the hopes that we might learn something about our current crisis from the study of history, we turned to Dr. David Berger, Dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University, and a longtime member of TRADITION’s editorial board. Dr. Berger has dedicated decades of his distinguished academic career to the study of anti-Semitism and Jewish-Christian interactions. His writings on these topics have recently been gathered in "Persecution, Polemic, and Dialogue: Essays in Jewish-Christian Relations" (Academic Studies Press).

This Shabbat marks the 5th yahrzeit of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l -- revisit TRADITION's Sefer Yovel (Winter 2014), ex...
04/23/2020

This Shabbat marks the 5th yahrzeit of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l -- revisit TRADITION's Sefer Yovel (Winter 2014), examining his thought and legacy, published right before his passing, and explore our archive for the many essays he published in our journal over the years.
Sefer Yovel: https://traditiononline.org/archives/?sort_order=date+asc&_sft_category=2014-issue-47-4&_sf_ppp=30
R. Lichtenstein's essays: https://traditiononline.org/archives/?_sft_author=lichtenstein-aharon&_sf_ppp=20

PODCASTHow does literature serve as both an escape from reality as well as a lens back onto ourselves and the challenges...
04/19/2020
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PODCAST
How does literature serve as both an escape from reality as well as a lens back onto ourselves and the challenges we face in difficult days? TRADITION’s editor R. Jeffrey Saks discusses these questions with Sarah Rindner, an instructor of literature at Lander College who recently relocated to Israel with her family.
https://traditiononline.org/podcast-reading-in-a-time-of-covid/

Tradition is the Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought published quarterly by the Rabbinical Council of America since 1958.

How does halakha guide the difficult triage decisions our physicians and emergency care workers are grappling with durin...
04/13/2020
LOOKING BACKWARD: Triage During the COVID-19 Pandemic

How does halakha guide the difficult triage decisions our physicians and emergency care workers are grappling with during the COVID-19 crisis? Dr. Alan Jotkowitz weighs in.
https://traditiononline.org/looking-backward-triage-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

LOOKING BACKWARD: Triage During the COVID-19 PandemicAlan Jotkowitz  Dedicated to the refuah shelama of Yissacher Chaim ben Esther Malka and all patients suffering from coronavirus. [“Looking Backward” is an occasional feature on TraditionOnline.org in which we ask authors to reflec

As we mark the Rav's 27th yahrzeit today (18 Nissan) please visit the Rabbi Soloveitchik zt"l Archives at TRADITION to a...
04/12/2020

As we mark the Rav's 27th yahrzeit today (18 Nissan) please visit the Rabbi Soloveitchik zt"l Archives at TRADITION to access and read the first editions of many of his most important essays in English -- "The Lonely Man of Faith; "Majesty and Humility"; "Confrontation" and more -- and browse the archives for dozens of articles exploring his life and thought...
https://traditiononline.org/r-soloveitchik-archives/

Music’s power to channel emotion, the challenge of finding meaning in prayer, and the importance of creativity as religi...
04/06/2020
PODCAST: Mark Smilowitz’s “Ki Lekha”: Music to Plead with God

Music’s power to channel emotion, the challenge of finding meaning in prayer, and the importance of creativity as religious expression are all explored in this social episode of the TRADITION Podcast. Mark Smilowitz has been slowly composing a song off and on for over twenty years based on a passage in Tachanun. It should not be surprising that coronavirus provided new insight to the tefilla, and provided the impetus to complete the project and issue the recording.
https://traditiononline.org/podcast-mark-smilowitzs-ki-lekha-music-to-plead-with-god/

In this short podcast episode, R. Jeffrey Saks talks with Rabbi Mark Smilowitz, a veteran educator in North America and Israel, about his newly released song, “Ki Lekha.” The words are taken from the Monday and Thursday Tahanun prayer, and speak of our beseeching God in times of distress, peril,

Opening day of MLB has been delayed. Chaim Strauchler nevertheless turns to baseball to garner moral insights to slavery...
04/05/2020
Slavery, Morality, and Baseball

Opening day of MLB has been delayed. Chaim Strauchler nevertheless turns to baseball to garner moral insights to slavery and fraud as Pesach approaches...
https://traditiononline.org/slavery-morality-and-baseball/

Slavery, Morality, and BaseballChaim StrauchlerThe phone rang. It was just before six on a recent dark morning. I picked up the phone quickly to prevent it from waking the entire house. After a moment of silence, an automated voice informed me that Visa was calling. A suspicious $1400 charge for

The current pandemic has generated a plethora of novel halakhic issues that were formerly unfamiliar to modern poskim. A...
04/02/2020
From Cholera to Coronavirus: Recurring Pandemics, Recurring Rabbinic Responses

The current pandemic has generated a plethora of novel halakhic issues that were formerly unfamiliar to modern poskim. As with all halakhic challenges, especially in the field of medicine, we seek historical precedent in rabbinic literature. Disease and its impact on society and religious practice is as old as humanity itself. Rabbi Edward Reichman, M.D., turns to the history of rabbinic response to cholera, which appeared in seven prolonged waves in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (each lasting between 7 and 24 years).

The essay reviews some of the issues our predecessors faced in times of pandemic in the hope of providing perspective, inspiration, and guidance on how to cope with our present predicament. Some of the parallels are striking, and it is humbling that despite our remarkable, divinely guided advances in both the understanding and treatment of disease, in many ways, little has changed.

From Cholera to Coronavirus: Recurring Pandemics, Recurring Rabbinic ResponsesEdward ReichmanThis article is dedicated to the refuah shelema of my dear friend, the tzaddik, Yisachar Chaim ben Esther Malka (who is suffering from coronavirus) and to the memory of Romi Cohen z”l a mentor and li

It is said that naming a problem is the first step in ameliorating it. How has Hebrew developed words for plague and pes...
03/30/2020
Words of Ailing, Words of Healing

It is said that naming a problem is the first step in ameliorating it. How has Hebrew developed words for plague and pestilence, epidemics and diseases -- and their antonymic words of healing? Linguist David Curwin explores and explains...

Words of Ailing, Words of HealingDavid CurwinWhile the coronavirus has led to a crisis like nothing seen in over a century, humanity as a whole, and the Jewish people in particular, have experienced plagues and epidemics over the millennia. It should therefore not be surprising that many Hebre

Is the primary mission of schools to transmit content, which can be achieved online, or is their central purpose to prov...
03/29/2020
The Early Days of Bais Yaakov: A Peek Inside the Classroom

Is the primary mission of schools to transmit content, which can be achieved online, or is their central purpose to provide social stimulation, experiences, and a sense of community, none of which can be replaced by a Zoom session? The question applies to historians of education as well. When studying a school or educational movement, how much focus should be on the educational content, and how much on the community and experiences created by the school system? Channa Lockshin Bob explores through the prism of a trove of early Bais Yaakov student notebooks...
https://traditiononline.org/the-early-days-of-bais-yaakov-a-peek-inside-the-classroom

The Early Days of Bais Yaakov: A Peek Inside the ClassroomChanna Lockshin BobIn recent weeks, as schools and universities around the world have shifted to online teaching, a conversation has begun about the nature of education. Is the primary mission of schools to transmit content, which can b

“Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the prin...
03/26/2020
The BEST: The Twilight Zone: Time Enough at Last

“Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by ... a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock.” Tradition Journal's "The BEST" column explores "The Twilight Zone" and its message during coronavirus isolation.

The BEST: The Twilight Zone: Time Enough at LastReviewed by Jeffrey Saks“Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue

TRADITION PODCAST: Erica Brown on "We Are But Dust"This is another special episode of the TRADITION Podcast, checking in...
03/24/2020
PODCAST: We Are But Dust

TRADITION PODCAST: Erica Brown on "We Are But Dust"
This is another special episode of the TRADITION Podcast, checking in with our authors and editors to hear how they are managing through the corona crisis. In this installment, R. Jeffrey Saks talks with Dr. Erica Brown about the Avinu Malkenu, recited on public fasts and the Days of Awe—times of introspection, repentance, and spiritual stock-taking. Dr. Brown focuses on the line “Our Father, Our King, remember that we are but dust” as a statement of humility in the face of uncertainty.

This is another special episode of the TRADITION Podcast in which we check in with our authors and editors to hear how they are managing through the corona crisis. In this installment, R. Jeffrey Saks talks with Dr. Erica Brown about her recent thoughts concerning the Avinu Malkenu, recited on publi

TRADITION PODCAST: Courage as a Jewish ValueIn this special coronavirus episode of the TRADITION podcast, our editor, Je...
03/22/2020
PODCAST: Courage as a Jewish Value

TRADITION PODCAST: Courage as a Jewish Value
In this special coronavirus episode of the TRADITION podcast, our editor, Jeffrey Saks, talks with Yitzchak Blau about his Winter 2009 essay whose titled asked the rhetorical question: “Is Courage a Jewish Value?”
We have all been thinking about courage these days, especially in light of the many acts of resilience (spiritual and otherwise) in the face of Covid-19 to which we’ve been witness. Rabbi Blau suggests that courage is a concept which lurks in the background of many Jewish texts. Why isn’t it more in the foreground? How do traditional Jewish sources explicitly endorse and emphasize the virtue of courage? Need courage rooted in religious values such as faith and trust in God entail an absence of fear?
Listen here: https://traditiononline.org/podcast-courage-as-a-jewish-value/

In this special coronavirus episode of the TRADITION podcast, our editor, Jeffrey Saks, talks with Yitzchak Blau about his Winter 2009 essay whose titled asked the rhetorical question: “Is Courage a Jewish Value?” We have all been thinking about courage these days, especially in light of th

An important message from our publisher The Rabbinical Council of America - RCA.
03/21/2020

An important message from our publisher The Rabbinical Council of America - RCA.

Rav Kook on Fear Itself
03/19/2020
Rav Kook on Fear Itself

Rav Kook on Fear Itself

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As part of its important role in servicing rabbis and Jewish communities throughout North America and the world,  The Ra...
03/17/2020
PODCAST: R. Hershel Schachter on Hilkhot Covid-19

As part of its important role in servicing rabbis and Jewish communities throughout North America and the world, The Rabbinical Council of America - RCA, publisher of Tradition Journal, convened a special conference call with Rav Hershel Schachter for the organization’s member rabbis on March 16, 2020. During the call Rav Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS - Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University, fielded questions on an array of topics concerning halakha in a time of coronavirus—from pre-Pesach preparations, to communal prayer, to mikva observance, and more. Listeners will recognize and appreciate Rav Schachter’s renowned erudition, and his deep concern for the supreme importance of protecting human life and health as a central value in Judaism’s moral and legal tradition.
The conference call was meant to serve as a resource for communal rabbis who are facing unprecedented challenges in leading their synagogues and pastoring their flocks, and we thank the RCA for sharing it with readers of TRADITION and listeners of the podcast. Obviously each individual should consult with his or her own halakhic authority concerning specific questions. The conversation was convened and moderated by Rabbi Mark Dratch, executive director of the RCA.

As part of their important role in servicing rabbis and Jewish communities throughout North America and the world, the Rabbinical Council of America, publisher of TRADITION, convened a special conference call with Rav Hershel Schachter for the organization’s member rabbis on March 16, 2020. Durin

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