Tradition Journal

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

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And now let’s talk about more cheerful things... Na'amit Sturm Nagel writes for TraditionOnline's The BEST: "Sholem Alei...
11/05/2020
The BEST: Tevya the Dairyman

And now let’s talk about more cheerful things... Na'amit Sturm Nagel writes for TraditionOnline's The BEST: "Sholem Aleichem’s stories manage to paradoxically balance laughter and tears, comedy and tragedy, tzores and simches. Even in the saddest moments of his stories, Sholom Aleichem’s character warmly addresses the readers and challenges them to laugh. When Jews have historically faced struggles, they have built existential grit through laughter. Yiddish literature’s deep layers lie hidden in the underbelly of the jokes."
https://traditiononline.org/the-best-tevya-the-dairyman

Many pieces of Yiddish literature belong on this list, but the first one is Tevye the Dairyman, written by Solomon Rabinovich, known more widely by his pseudonym, Sholem Aleichem.Summary: Many have seen “Fiddler on the Roof” and therefore think they know the milkman’s story, but it is an

The story of Akedat Yitzhak, the binding of Isaac, read in synagogues this Shabbat, has posed significant philosophical ...
11/04/2020
PODCAST: Unbinding Isaac

The story of Akedat Yitzhak, the binding of Isaac, read in synagogues this Shabbat, has posed significant philosophical challenges throughout the history of Jewish and religious thought. In his newest book, "Unbinding Isaac: The Significance of the Akedah for Modern Jewish Thought" (The Jewish Publication Society), Aaron Koller leads his readers on a trek of discovery into this most challenging biblical story. TRADITION’s Fall 2020 issue featured an extensive review of "Unbinding Isaac" by Alex Ozar. We thought it would be interesting to bring the reviewer and his subject together for a discussion about this provocative book. As you’re about to hear in this episode of the TRADITION Podcast, they had a lot to talk about.
https://traditiononline.org/podcast-unbinding-isaac/

The story of Akedat Yitzhak, the binding of Isaac (Gen. 22), read in synagogues this Shabbat, has posed significant philosophical challenges throughout the history of Jewish and religious thought. In his newest book, Unbinding Isaac: The Significance of the Akedah for Modern Jewish Thought (JPS), Aa

As Americans vote in this most contentious of elections, peruse the TRADITION Archives for articles written over the yea...
11/03/2020

As Americans vote in this most contentious of elections, peruse the TRADITION Archives for articles written over the years on the array of topics related to democratic values, including essays by Michael Avi Helfand, Shalom Carmy, Gerald Blidstein, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, and more.
Click here: https://traditiononline.org/archives/?_sf_s=democracy&_sf_ppp=100

Decades after departing for Canaan and his last contact with family, Abraham receives word that his brother Nahor has be...
11/01/2020
Post-Akeda Genealogical Report

Decades after departing for Canaan and his last contact with family, Abraham receives word that his brother Nahor has become a father and now has more than a dozen descendants (Gen. 22). After so long out of touch with them, why does Abraham suddenly get this genealogical message specifically at that time following Akedat Yitzhak? While God may have wanted him notified about Rivka as a potential spouse for Yitzhak, He does not prophetically instruct the reporter to go convey that information. One wonders: What was the human-level trigger that sent him to Abraham, dozens of years after the latter left Haran? In our Summer 2020 issue Ami Hordes offered a careful parsing of the biblical chronology of events leading up to the report. https://traditiononline.org/post-akeda-genealogical-report/

Decades after departing for Canaan and his last contact with family, Abraham receives word that his brother Nahor has become a father and now has more than a dozen descendants (Gen. 22). After so long out of touch with them, why does Abraham suddenly get this genealogical message specifically at tha

25 years after the Rabin assasination, what lessons has the Religious Zionist community learned?We look back through the...
10/30/2020
Remembering Rabin

25 years after the Rabin assasination, what lessons has the Religious Zionist community learned?
We look back through the TRADITION archives.
https://traditiononline.org/remembering-rabin/

Today, 12 Heshvan, marks the 25th anniversary of the assasination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z”l (the secular date is observed on November 4th). That the assassin was a self-identifying member of the Religious Zionist community has been a source of shame and cause for self-reflection for our

Noah Marlowe makes his debut in TRADITION Online, explaining why a new genre of writing about therapy demonstrates the p...
10/29/2020
The BEST: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Noah Marlowe makes his debut in TRADITION Online, explaining why a new genre of writing about therapy demonstrates the power of growth (and even post-traumatic growth). "Sometimes we just need a little a push, friendly encouragement, and honest reflection to improve our lives. This book powerfully displays the mechanics of therapy and gives those who have considered embarking on the journey of therapy a taste of the therapy experience. It's not a self-help book, but it teaches valuable lessons gleaned from the world of psychotherapy and hopefully gives readers permission to explore meeting with a therapist."
https://traditiononline.org/maybe-you-should-talk-to-someone

The BEST: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori GottliebReviewed by Noah MarloweAs the stigmas and taboos of mental health recede and retreat in the public eye, therapy – and talking about therapy – has become mainstream. Complementing the normalization of mental health discourse, the

We're not sure what a panel (manel?) of great Jewish thinkers would have looked like in days of old, but TRADITION's Fal...
10/27/2020
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We're not sure what a panel (manel?) of great Jewish thinkers would have looked like in days of old, but TRADITION's Fall 2020 issue brings together an array of creative minds to discuss "Jewish thought in the Contemporary World: Educational Challenges and Goals." In this episode of the TRADITION Podcast our guest editor Mali Adler Brofsky discusses the symposium's major themes with two of our 11 authors, David Bashevkin and Daniel Rynhold. Listen now: https://traditiononline.org/jewish-thought-in-the-contemporary-world/

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

10/22/2020

Sarah Rindner Blum asks why Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" is "The Best": Whitman’s exploration of human sensuality and his irreverence for traditional Christian dogma generated controversy when Leaves of Grass was first published. They certainly could still cause discomfort to a religious person reading them today. Yet the book has an “original energy” that is undeniable, and offers a model of how to radically innovate while still building on and channeling a tradition that stretches far back. Read more: https://traditiononline.org/13409-2

As the world awaits the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine Drs. Sharon Galper Grossman and R. Shamai Grossman present a sweep...
10/20/2020
Halakha Approaches the COVID-19 Vaccine

As the world awaits the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine Drs. Sharon Galper Grossman and R. Shamai Grossman present a sweeping halakhic and scientific analysis of the panoply of issues related to vaccines in general and our specific moment in particular. The bottom line? "It is our best hope to alleviate the worldwide suffering and to arrest the horrific death toll brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. When it does arrive, we feel that it is morally obligatory and halakhically mandated that people accept the vaccine."

Halakha Approaches the COVID-19 VaccineSharon Galper Grossman & Shamai GrossmanRachel tried to reason with the clerk at the check-in counter. She explained that she had delayed vaccinating herself and her children because she did not want to be the first to receive a new vaccine, especiall

Along with all lovers of Torah and wisdom TRADITION is calling upon members of the Jewish community to devote a portion ...
10/19/2020

Along with all lovers of Torah and wisdom TRADITION is calling upon members of the Jewish community to devote a portion of their Torah learning and prayers today, Rosh Hodesh Heshvan, October 19, to the speedy recovery and full healing of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Yaakov Tzvi ben Liba. To study some of R. Sacks’ own writings in his merit we suggest visiting his articles in the TRADITION archive: https://traditiononline.org/archives/?_sft_author=jonathan-sacks

Readers of TRADITION are encourage to visit the re-launched website of the Lamm Heritage Archives, dedicated to the thou...
10/14/2020

Readers of TRADITION are encourage to visit the re-launched website of the Lamm Heritage Archives, dedicated to the thought and writings of our founding editor, Rabbi Norman Lamm z"l. The site contains over 800 digitized and searchable sermons, the medium in which R. Lamm was recognized as his generation's unparalleled master, along with audio and video recordings of his pubic addresses -- www.yu.edu/about/lamm-heritage

FALL 2020 ISSUE ARRIVESTRADITION’s Fall 2020 issue has just released and has already begun to land in subscribers’ mailb...
10/13/2020

FALL 2020 ISSUE ARRIVES
TRADITION’s Fall 2020 issue has just released and has already begun to land in subscribers’ mailboxes. See the Table of Contents and sample some open-access content (subscribers have full digital access): https://traditiononline.org/latest-issues
Issue highlights: Mali Adler Brofsky, guest edits our symposium on “Jewish Thought in the Contemporary World: Educational Challenges and Goals”— featuring 11, wide-ranging entries in the symposium were authored by some of today’s leading thinkers, educators, and academics in North America and Israel: David Bashevkin, Cheryl Berman, Yitzchak Blau, Yosef Bronstein, Miriam Feldmann Kaye, Yoel Finkelman, Julie Goldstein, Daniel Rynhold, David Shatz, Dov Singer, and Netanel Wiederblank.
The issue also contains: J. David Bleich’s survey of halakhic literature on “Coronavirus Queries”; Hillel Goldberg's annotated translation of R. Avraham Eliyahu Kaplan’s "Be-Ikvot ha-Yirah"; Zvi Leshem reviews new books on Rav Ashlag and Alex Ozar reads Aaron Koller on the Akeda; Nechama Price explores the true character of Lot; and more.

The last few years have seen a welcome change with the steady rise in resources having to do with sexuality geared towar...
10/12/2020
Review: I Am for My Beloved

The last few years have seen a welcome change with the steady rise in resources having to do with sexuality geared towards the Orthodox population, from books, to manuals, to podcasts, and more. These layered dialogues provide information and resources from studies and research on human sexuality, case studies from within the religious community, and varying related halakhic sources and approaches. Most importantly, they have broadened the topic well beyond the normal boundaries taught in the classroom, yeshiva, or pre-marital counseling classes, using language and references comfortable for the religious listener but, at the same time, not shying away from religiously complicated or sensitive topics and using clear and explicit language instead of euphemisms commonly used in traditional literature. For all of these reasons, “I Am for My Beloved” (Urim Publications), co-authored by David Ribner and Talli Y. Rosenbaum, is an important addition to the Jewish bookshelf, writes Nechama Goldman Barash, who says this book will provide normalization and guidance for those seeking to further enhance marital intimacy and bring greater pleasure into the sanctified space of their bedroom without compromising their commitment to Jewish tradition.
https://traditiononline.org/review-i-am-for-my-beloved/

Book ReviewDavid S. Ribner and Talli Y. Rosenbaum, I Am for My Beloved: A Guide to Enhanced Intimacy for Married Couples (Urim Publications, 2020), 151 pp.Reviewed by Nechama Goldman BarashDuring the COVID -19 pandemic, synagogues around the world have been closed, reopened and closed ag

10/08/2020

Primo Levi conveys remarkable perception about the human condition under extreme circumstances. His ability to analyze the life of a concentration camp survivor from an insider’s perspective adds weight to the force and persuasiveness of the prose. Yitzchak Blau elaborates in The BEST...
https://traditiononline.org/the-best-the-drowned-and-the-saved/

The release last autumn of Yakov Z. Mayer’s novel "Nehemiah" caught the Israeli literary world by surprise. It focusses ...
10/06/2020
PODCAST: “Nehemiah” by Yakov Z. Mayer

The release last autumn of Yakov Z. Mayer’s novel "Nehemiah" caught the Israeli literary world by surprise. It focusses on Nehemiah Cohen, a historical figure, a 17th century rabbi and kabbalist who travelled from Poland to Turkey to meet the false messiah Sabbatai Tzvi – and Cohen’s eventual conversion to Islam in the wake of Sabbatai himself. Students of Rabbinic literature will be interested in a novel which features the likes of the Magen Avraham, the Bach, Shach, and Taz, alongside others. In this episode of the TRADITION Podcast, Mayer chats with our editor, Jeffrey Saks, about the intersection of his academic, literary, and Torah study interests, and the production of this work; how those of us interested in those three realms can benefit from historical fiction; trends in 21st century Jewish learning and spirituality which are reflected in this novel about the 17th century; and the state of contemporary Israeli culture’s interactions with Jewish texts and language.
https://traditiononline.org/podcast-nehemiah-by-yakov-z-mayer/

In TRADITION’s Summer 2020 issue we deviated from our normal habit and published a review of a work of fiction – Yaakov Z. Mayer’s new Hebrew novel, Nehemiah (Yediot Sefarim), reviewed for us by Dr. Shlomo Tikochinski (read it here).Mayer is a writer in the Israeli popular press, an academ

Prof. Gerald (Ya’akov) Blidstein z”l, one of our generation’s most significant and creative practitioners of Jewish thou...
10/05/2020
Remembering Gerald Blidstein

Prof. Gerald (Ya’akov) Blidstein z”l, one of our generation’s most significant and creative practitioners of Jewish thought, and former member of TRADITION's editorial board, passed away on September 10. We invited two of his friends and colleagues, Profs. Carmi Horowitz and Abie Feintuch, to share their thoughts on his legacy as a scholar and consummate mensch.
https://traditiononline.org/13267-2/

TRADITION mourns the loss of Prof. Gerald (Ya’akov) Blidstein z”l, one of our generation’s most significant and creative practitioners of Jewish thought, who passed away on September 10. Blidstein served as a member of our editorial board for many years, and contributed many important essay

This year, as we enter Sukkot – the holiday of joy and gratitude, we do so with a deeper appreciation for human limitati...
10/01/2020
The BEST: Man’s Search for Meaning

This year, as we enter Sukkot – the holiday of joy and gratitude, we do so with a deeper appreciation for human limitation and our individual mortality. Pandemics do that. We will experience joy, but differently. Viktor E. Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can decide how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Chaim Strauchler explores these connections in "The BEST"...
https://traditiononline.org/the-best-mans-search-for-meaning-by-viktor-frankl/

The BEST: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor FranklReviewed by Chaim StrauchlerSummary: Viktor Frankl, famed psychotherapist and Holocaust survivor, published Man's Search for Meaning in 1946. The book recounts his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps to frame his psychother

Rabbi Yair Hayyim Bacharach (1638-1703), the Havvat Yair, was one of the greatest Talmudic scholars of the 17th century....
09/29/2020

Rabbi Yair Hayyim Bacharach (1638-1703), the Havvat Yair, was one of the greatest Talmudic scholars of the 17th century. His well-known responsum on the legitimacy and permissibility of the daughter's kaddish serves as the point of departure for most contemporary writers on the issue of women's recitation of kaddish, but the second half of his teshuva, which contains his halakhic reasoning, has been largely ignored. Shimon Altshul's recent TRADITION essay fills the void by analyzing his interpretation of the sources and offering some historical perspective.
https://traditiononline.org/havvot-yairs-safeguard-principle-and-the-daughters-kaddish/

We can look Jewish history in the face not simply because of the challenges we survive. We can look Jewish history in th...
09/27/2020
Looking Judaism in the Face

We can look Jewish history in the face not simply because of the challenges we survive. We can look Jewish history in the face because of what we say and do in the face of challenge. A Yom Kippur message from Chaim Strauchler.

Rabbi Chaim Strauchler, associate editor of TRADITION, serves as rabbi of Shaarei Shomayim in Toronto. He sent these thoughts to his congregation in advance of Yom Kippur, and we are pleased to share them with our readers.“Preparing for a [Pesach] without family, without guests, without shul,

How are the spiritual challenges of Yom Kippur represented in Hebrew literature? Our editor, Jeffrey Saks, shares a tran...
09/24/2020
The BEST: Twofold

How are the spiritual challenges of Yom Kippur represented in Hebrew literature? Our editor, Jeffrey Saks, shares a translation of an S.Y. Agnon tale in advance of the Day of Awe.

The BEST: TwofoldJeffrey Saks“Twofold” (in Hebrew “Pi Shnayim”) is a 1939 short story by Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon centered on the spiritual challenges of Yom Kippur. It appears in Hebrew as part of his cycle of 20 surrealistic tales, the Sefer HaMa’asim (Book of Deeds), which

Among the many contributions to Jewish life and learning for which Rabbi Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz z"l is being rememb...
09/22/2020
Reading “Epistle to Yemen” in Moscow

Among the many contributions to Jewish life and learning for which Rabbi Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz z"l is being remembered is his pioneering educational work which aided in the revival of Judaism in the Soviet Union. Prof. David Berger of Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies (at Yeshiva University) was among the first cohort of teachers to staff the Steinsaltz Yeshiva in Moscow when it opening in 1989. Read his recollections of what he learned from R. Steinsaltz and from the remarkable students he encountered there.

Reading “Epistle to Yemen” in MoscowDavid BergerDavid Rozenson’s excellent account of R. Adin Steinsaltz’s project in Russia evokes inspiring memories. (His account can be supplemented by this article by Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, Chief Rabbi of Moscow.) I was one of four teachers

On the first day of Rosh Hashana we read of the birth of Isaac and the banishment of Ishmael; on the second day we read ...
09/17/2020
The BEST: Fear and Trembling

On the first day of Rosh Hashana we read of the birth of Isaac and the banishment of Ishmael; on the second day we read of the near-sacrifice of Isaac. This story, the Akeda, has haunted Jews through the ages. How does Kierkegaard’s "Fear and Trembling" help us grapple with the Akeda? Particularly this year: The idea of the knight of faith alone on the mountaintop is an awe-inspiring one, and Kierkegaard’s profound meditation can guide us to climb higher. In his hands, faith is never simple and never easy, but it is a journey well worth undertaking. Aaron Koller explains...
https://traditiononline.org/the-best-fear-and-trembling/

The BEST: Fear and Tremblingby Aaron KollerOn the first day of Rosh Hashana we read of the birth of Isaac and the banishment of Ishmael; on the second day we read of the near-sacrifice of Isaac. This story, the Akeda, has haunted Jews through the ages. Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling

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Finally a book has come out that all Jewish People must read. It explains that neither Jewish or any man had anything to do with Jesus's Death. Also explain what happened to Jesus when he went against God's wishes and went upon the mountain with Satan. DO YOU KNOW WHY? Why Did Jesus say… Pick Up the Serpent and Drink All Deadly Things? Why did Jesus tell the rich man… To see Heaven, you must obey the Ten Commandments and give to the Needy, yet preachers tell you that you are forgiven for your sins? Why did Jesus say… Don’t call me Good Master for there is none good but God. but later said I am the way and the light, and you can only get to Heaven through me? If Jesus is God why when he was on the cross, cry out God, God, why have you forsaken me? If Jesus was dying for our sins (which the Bible never said so) then why would he say God forsaken him? A God can move mountains and hold back seas, why was Jesus not able to remove a small nail from his hand. How did Mary walk right pass Jesus and not notice him? Why did his disciples go up to him and ask Stranger, have you seen Jesus? What really happened to Jesus when he went up on the mountain with Satan? There are many questions about the Bible and finally there is a book that explains all. “ I LOVE GOD by Gregory St. James Mundy”