Dear Rabbi Cardozo,
For many years, I have read your articles and publications with interest. I greatly admire the way in which you present the complexity of religion and existence and do not shy away from the burning issues of the moment, sometimes at the expense of long held dogmas that need reappraisal. I would however like to comment on the recent article you penned about Rav Soloveitchik. As you rightly said, Rav Soloveitchik was perhaps one of the greatest thinkers and Halachic authorities in the last century. It is for this reason, he became known by his students as simply ‘The Rav’.
The gist of your article, if I can brusquely summarise it, suggests that despite his standing, he was not a mechadesh in the important areas of Halacha and seems to implicitly suggest that even his philosophical thinking provided little by the way of novelty. I cannot claim to have studied Rav Soloveitchik’s Halachic responsa in depth, neither can I claim to have read every single one of his writings. However I can say that over the years I have been fortunate to have dissected elements of his thinking which has, on a personal level, profoundly affected the way I approach my faith, my life and my existential struggles. I have read many Jewish thinkers from Levinas to Cohen, Buber to Borowitz, Heschel to Greenberg. They have all added much to my Weltanschauung, but I think the book that both affected me the most and defined for so many the inner drama of a religious human being, must be Rav Soloveitchik’s The Lonely Man of Faith.
Furthermore, one could argue that some of the greatest thinkers and halachic innovators today stand basking in the light of the Rav’s thought. Surely Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits book Not in Heaven was influenced by the Rav’s Halachic Man and Halachic Mind. By their own admissions, Rabbi David Hartman, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg and Rav Lichtenstein, to name just a few, were influenced and shaped by the innovative theological framework of their teacher and colleague. It is true, as you state, that there is a fight for his legacy, which has as you claim transformed him into a kind of cult leader. I would suggest that it is the very tension you explicate between the novelty in the philosophical realm and the conservatism in the Halachic realm that has created the multifaceted interpretations of the Rav’s positions. Furthermore, I would disagree that he has become so to speak idolised, but rather emulating his view of creative and autonomous thought, many of his greatest students are also his greatest critics, which is not something one finds in the charedi world.
Your article focused on one essay and one aspect of the Rav’s corpus of thinking and life works. Its narrow focus meant that it also lost the complexity in the development of his thought. Halachic Man was penned in 1944. Whilst writing the book, the very legacy to which the Rav owed his knowledge and foundations were being gassed to oblivion. The Rav felt an obligation to retain the Brisker tradition which as you describe ‘depicts an image of an ideal halachic human being who in many ways lives a mathematical and almost stony life’.
The dialectical struggle that we see at the start of the book between cognitive man, who is as you describe a cold, calculated individual almost bereft of any emotional attachment to reality, and Homo-religiosus who is a more traditional religious mystic interested in the transcendent elements of the religious experience, seems to quickly lose ground. By the end of the book there is no real dialectical swing between the two. Homo religiosus has no place in Halachic Man’s persona. This is in contrary to Lonely Man of Faith, which, if we compare and contrast to Halachic Man, retains throughout a deep dialectical tension between Adam 1 and Adam 2 typologies. Adam 1 the scientist can be compared to cognitive man man and Adam 2 the philosopher or religious man, can be compared to homo religiosus. What has changed? Why in Halachic Man is the ideal persona a Mitnagged Brisker, almost neo-Kantian personality that views the world only through the lens of halachic data, and in Lonely Man of Faith, the ideal religious personality oscillates between the two? The answer is the years in-between, and here I get to what I think you miss in your analysis of the Rav.
Halachic Man is written in 1944, The Lonely Man of Faith is written in 1965. There is no doubt that twenty years in the life of such a deep and reflective individual will change their Weltanschauung. In their now infamous article Singer and Sokol (1) make a claim about the Rav that I think is pertinent to your analysis. They claim that the differences between the two essays lies in chasm of the twenty years in between the two writings. In 1944 the Rav must remain loyal to his roots; the rabbinic academy of Brisk, from where the origin of his yahdut emerged, is being destroyed as he writes and thus as they claim, ’he is loyal to the tradition of his father and grandfather, which emphasised study, pure emotional detachment and stoic indifference’ (2). However, twenty years later he feels at greater ease to throw off the yolk of the Brisker tradition and immerse himself in a more hassidic existential aura that celebrates defeat, retreat and humility. He is able to accede to the conflictual and multi-dimensional aspects of a religious personality.
Halachic man has all the trappings of a neo-Kantian outlook. Absent is any existential allusions. The Lonely Man of Faith, written after the death of his wife and deep into the life of an individual who has lived and seen life through the lens of loss, loneliness and struggle, presents a far more complex face of the religious experience. Halacha is not seen solely as a monolithic system or normative framework, rather as the very tool used to create the constant tension and oscillation within the persona of every individual who lives an authentically religious life. This change is reflected not only in these two essays but can be seen as a developing trend throughout his lifetime, essays such as Majesty and Humility, Al Ahavat Ha-Torah u-Geulat Nefesh Hador, Kol Dodi Dofek, to name a few. This dialectic is seen most poignantly in 1977 through a eulogy the Rav delivers for his son in law’s mother, the Rebbetzin of Talne, where he describes the difference between the approach to Judaism of his mother and his father. He writes:
“The laws of Shabbat, for instance were passed on to me by my father; they are part of musar avikha. The Shabbat as a living entity, as a queen, was revealed to me by my mother; it is part of torat imekha. The father knew much about Shabbat, the mothers lived the Shabbat, experienced her presence, and perceived her beauty and splendour …most of all I learned that Judaism expresses itself not in formal compliance of the law but also a living experience…. I learnt from her (his mother) the most important things in life – to feel the presence of the Almighty and the gentle pressure of His hand resting on my frail shoulder’ (3).
In your article, you use Rabbi Heschel to critique Soloveitchik, but there is no doubt that here in this extract we hear echoes of Heschel’s ‘The Sabbath’. Perhaps only in his later years having gained the insight of a life lived to the full, does Rav Soloveitchik allow himself to let go of the Neo-Kantian epistemology of the Halachic Man and move towards the more existential, empiricist feel of The Lonely Man of Faith.
Though your criticism may be justified, one must not underestimate the impact his thought had on so many. His seamless interweaving of western philosophy with Jewish tradition spoke and continues to speak to so many who are struggling between the two worlds. His elevation of classic concepts such as inner defat, self-negation and self-sacrifice, from antiquated destructive values to the highest form of freedom, was antipathetic to the societal norms of autonomy, freedom, self-aggrandizement in the 1960’s, yet this was his accomplishment whose impact is still being felt today.
The Lonely Man of Faith has been an inspiration for so many spanning a plethora of cultural and religious divides. (Just yesterday I finished a book by American journalist David Brooks on the state of American society today. He uses the framework of adam 1 and adam 2 to build his innovative theory of individual and societal character building. Even the fact that your own autobiography is called Lonely but not Alone is reminiscent of Rav Soloveitchik Lonely Man of Faith).
How does this address the critique you levy at him in your article for his lack of innovation in the Halachic realm. The answer I believe is that for many reasons (4) the Rav was halachically strait jacketed, and his unwillingness, or inability to take a controversial and novel stance on important halachic issues is one that is both disappointing and surprising, considering his innovation in the philosophical realm. However just as we see in Halachic, the Rav felt a strong obligation to the tradition of his fathers. Perhaps he felt it was too early to depart from or radically reinterpret thousands of years of Halachic stringencies and inertia. However, he laid the path for those after him to do the work. His insistence on women’s learning especially of Gemara was an opening of doors for the developments we see today. As I have argued in an article to be printed in an upcoming book on Rabbi Greenberg, the Rav’s essay Confrontation was theologically ambiguous and thus paved the way for interpretation that could ultimately lead to interfaith dialogue.
Rav Soloveitchik, like any great individual, was human. He was working within the confines of political, religious and personal constraints. However perhaps if we focus on the development of his thought, if we see the movement from a neo-Kantian, strictly mitnagged outlook to a more existentially religious experience, we might argue that his thought as opposed to his halachic rulings define the man and his legacy. Rabbi Yitz Greenberg titles one of his essays ‘Two doors Rabbi Soloveitchik opened but did not walk through’ which points to the fact that it may be his greatness lay in positioning the ground work for doors his students and future generations would walk through.
Finally, I hope you do not mind me mentioning something that has bothered me over the years and that is particularly relevant in light of this essay. As I mentioned at the start I greatly admire your thinking, I believe you raise issues that deserve much attention and debate. Like Rav Soloveitchik, you are a bold and innovative thinker. However, your call for halachic innovation and change, is seldom followed by any action. I understand that unlike the Rav, you are not a posek in the same fashion, though you could by anyone’s standards be a respected rabbinical authority. Surely the only way to create change, as you correctly preach and advocate would be to take the action in the halachic realm that is needed. Thus my question is, are you so far removed from the critique you levy against the Rav? In your thought, you are bold, innovative and assertive, but in practical halachic terms, unless I am misinformed, I have not seen any great steps. You argue quite correctly that Halacha has become stagnant where it should be innovative and dynamic, but the flourishing of Halacha is happening again, perhaps more at the grass roots than at the helm, but for it to be truly successful we need people like yourself to take the wheel and steer in the right direction. We live in a time of great change, I pray our great, great grandchildren will look back on this period and proclaim we were the engineers of a new and bold religious reality, which as I have argued may have begun with the Rav. However, it will require not just the ideas but the practical halachic guidance and courageous decisions to allow it to happen and the question is who will be brave enough to actually walk through that door?
With best wishes,
1. Singer and Sokol: Joseph Soloveitchik: The Lonely man of Faith, Modern Judaism 1982
2. David Hartman: Love and Terror in the God Encounter p98
3. A tribute to the Rebbetzin of Talne, Rabbi J.B Soloveitchik, Tradition 1977
4. It is beyond the scope of this letter to go into all the constraints, mainly during his days at Yeshiva university, the political constraints of his position.
Dear Mrs. White,
Thank you for your very balanced reaction to my essay on Rav Soloveitchik z”l. I apologize for responding only now.
To begin with, it seems that you agree with most of what I wrote. However, I admit that perhaps I didn’t give enough attention to some remarkable works such as The Lonely Man of Faith. They are no doubt major breakthroughs in the world of religious philosophy, and that is no small accomplishment.
However, this only underscores my critique on Rav Soloveitchik’s Ish ha-Halakhah, (in English, Halakhic Man) and some of his piskei din. In fact, it makes it more complicated.
People reading Ish ha-Halakhah can sometimes get the impression that they are reading Emanuel Kant in a Jewish religious framework. I agree that there are major differences, especially with regard to the great Kantian thinker Herman Cohen who was the subject of the Rav’s Ph.D. dissertation (1); and without denying that writing Ish ha-Halakhah is itself a major accomplishment, I still doubt the originality of this work. Genius, yes; original, I’m not sure!
More important, though, is the fact that, as you and many others claim, it was in his later years that the Rav moved away from this almost stony life as expressed in Ish ha-Halakhah. This begs the question: Why didn’t the Rav take the time to write another work on Halacha, stating that his original one no longer reflects his ideas on the subject, and giving us a new perspective and interpretation? This was never done, and that’s why Halakhic Man is still seen as the authoritative interpretation of Halacha by the Rav. It could be argued that “U’bikashtem Mi-Sham” (2) was an attempt to soften the earlier harsh approach, but it still did not take the place of Halakhic Man. Doesn’t this mean that the Rav did not change his mind, at least as far as the major premise of this work is concerned? While I, as well as other Orthodox thinkers, still greatly admire this work – even with all its problems – Halakhic Man has done much harm outside the Orthodox community and has pushed many people away from Halacha. I know this from my personal interactions with non-Orthodox and even Orthodox readers.
A man of the Rav’s caliber could easily have written another major book on Halacha – warmer and reflecting his new ideas, which he so beautifully expressed in his hesped (eulogy) for the Talner Rebbetzin, when he also spoke about his mother’s Shabbat (3). While the Rav did bring some emotional dimension in Halakhic Man, it is minor compared to the stony “Brisker approach.” And I’m not even sure whether it’s fair to hold Brisk responsible for all of this.
When another of his essays, The Halakhic Mind – even more complex than Ish ha-Halakhah and originally written in 1944 – was republished in 1986, it was not even updated and clearly gave the impression that the Rav had not changed his mind. I say this with full recognition that it contains beautiful new insights!
Concerning Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits’ approach to Halacha, I don’t see any evidence that it was influenced by Rav Soloveitchik’s writings. In fact, I believe the opposite is true. These two great men fundamentally clashed and disagreed on the nature and workings of Halacha.
You are right about Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, and Rabbi David Hartman. They were indeed deeply influenced by him. But the latter two moved away from the Rav in striking ways. It is true that these giants did not idolize the Rav, but the vast majority of Modern Orthodox leaders were and are under the spell of Rav Soloveitchik in ways that I believe are unhealthy and that he would have strongly opposed. Rabbi Greenberg wrote me that this idolization began in his later years, but my impression is that during these later years the idolization only increased, for reasons I have explained in my original essay.
Your claim that the Rav’s halachic conservatism, caused by his Brisker background, paved the way for his students to go beyond him and find new ways that he encouraged, sounds untrue. Here is Rabbi Greenberg’s response to my essay: You are right about his halachic conservatism. This was compounded by his own lack in encouraging students to go beyond him. He cut them down (as he did Rackman when Rackman went beyond him). Where, then, did he pave the way for those after him? The reverse is true. He blocked such developments.
You state that “perhaps he felt it was too early to depart from or radically reinterpret…halachic stringencies and inertia.” I wonder when, in your opinion, would the time have been ripe to do so, if not in the days of the Rav? He lived during a time of radical shifts in the Jewish world and a growing crisis in religious belief and halachic commitment. There was no better time than those very days to make these changes, and there was no greater man than he to embark on these departures. Do not forget that he was seen as the leader, symbol and figure head of Modern Orthodoxy and not just as another posek or Talmudist. As such, there were high expectations of him to move Halacha forward.
While I agree that the Rav’s encouragement for women to begin learning Talmud was a breakthrough (4), I can’t see it as a major accomplishment in the way that you do. (I wonder how much of a say his wife, Mrs. Tonya Soloveitchik – a strong personality with a Ph.D. – had in this matter.) Yes, by doing so he may have revolutionized Jewish learning for women; but feminism was on the rise, and it would have come anyway. The Jewish world was ripe for it and, as has often been the case, it would have been halachically justified after the fact. Women were already learning Talmud before the Rav’s days. More important, they could decide this on their own. No one could stop them from doing so in their private lives; nobody needed to know.
But in cases such as the agunah, the mamzer, and the kohein/giyoret, there was no way to decide these matters on their own. They were and still are completely dependent on the poskim, if they wish to remain within the Orthodox community.
I can’t see any justification for the Rav openly rejecting Rabbi Rackman’s argument, which claims that there is historical contextualization in the world of Halacha. Acceptance of that fact could have helped many Jewish women in his days and today. To this day, women still pay the price for this rejection. Yes, some may argue that these matters are very complex and far beyond the scope of an essay like mine, but a total dismissal is unjustified. True, the Rav was concerned that halachic tradition not be undermined, but he could have achieved that without completely rejecting approaches such as that of Rabbi Rackman. It would not have been seen as surrendering to nontraditional forces but rather as a victory of halachic strength.
Even more astonishing is the fact that, as I mentioned in my original article, the Rav admitted to Rabbi Rackman that he may have been right. Surely the Rav knew that historical contextualization had often been applied throughout halachic history (5). Again, I wonder whether the Rav ever discussed this with his beloved wife, who must have had her own ideas about this, especially when it came to women’s issues.
As some of his students told me, and as is my impression as well, the Rav felt isolated because his own world of the old-fashioned yeshivot had rejected him once he took a different stand on some matters, such as Zionism; secular studies; and trying to establish a joint beit din, together with the famous Rabbi Saul Lieberman of the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary, to deal with all matters related to marriage and divorce – an attempt that unfortunately never succeeded (6).
We must no doubt admire him for this, but he was never able to overcome his fear of isolation and remained stuck. Compare this to Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits, who was much more radical and much more isolated but never gave in to this situation, and he didn’t have a major rabbinical institution like Yeshiva University behind him. He simply moved on and fought a lonely, difficult battle that must have been extremely painful.
One more observation: While I greatly admire Rabbi Soloveitchik’s essays such as The Lonely Man of Faith, I wonder why he never dealt with some extremely important issues that keep many people away from Orthodoxy. Two examples suffice: 1) The issue of Torah Min HaShamayim and Bible criticism; and 2) the matter of belief in God (especially after the Holocaust) and the conflict between science and belief. It may be true – as Rabbi Walter Wurzburger suggests (7) – that the Rav avoided the issue of Bible criticism out of principle. But if it is true, then the Rav was out of touch with reality. At the time, Bible criticism was a major topic of discussion, as it still is. This subject is of utmost importance, and if anyone could have dealt with it head-on it was the Rav. Early in The Lonely Man of Faith, Rav Soloveitchik mentions that he wasn’t seriously bothered by this issue. But his readership certainly was!
The same is true about belief in God, and the conflict between science and belief. Sure, the Rav mentioned and discussed these matters, but never directly.
These issues, Bible Criticism and belief in God, are fully discussed in the prodigious works, by former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Crisis and Covenant (8) and The Great Partnership (9). I remember how my friends and I, who were not religious at the time, waited for the Rav to discuss these matters. But there was total silence. True, in The Halakhic Mind, he does deal with science and faith/philosophy – and in the last chapter with Halacha – but it is far from satisfactory for many searching, secular people. This book, like some of the others, was written in an Orthodox religious context, which a priori was accepted but was not convincing to those of us who did not share this point of view.
It is my belief that these topics are more important than the Rav’s masterpiece The Lonely Man of Faith. I’m not arguing that he should not have written the book. I am only contending that he should have also written major essays or books on these two critical subjects.
Coming back to my main argument, here are a few quotations by the Rav (10):
Halakhic man received the Torah from Sinai not as a simple recipient but as a creator of worlds, as a partner with the Almighty in the act of creation. The power of creative interpretation (hiddush) is the very foundation of the received tradition. (p. 81)
He [halakhic man] takes up his stand in the midst of the concrete world, his feet planted firmly on the ground of reality, and he looks about and sees, listens and hears, and publicly protests against the oppression of the helpless, the defrauding of the poor, the plight of the orphan….The actualization of the ideals of justice and righteousness is the pillar of fire which halakhic man follows, when he, as a rabbi and teacher in Israel, serves his community….The anguish of the poor, the despair of the helpless and humiliated outweigh many many commandments. (p. 91)
Even the Holy One, blessed be He, has, as it were, handed over His imprimatur, His official seal in Torah matters, to man; it is as if the Creator of the world Himself abides by man’s decision ad instruction. (p. 80)
If so, why was it impossible to accept Rabbi Rackman’s opinion that one has to see certain rulings by our Sages, especially those concerning women, in the context of historical developments? If the Rav would have done so, then, in his own words, the Holy One, Blessed be He, would have abided by his decision and instruction. The obligation to shape and perfect Halacha increases over history, as human beings become more mature. That is the very foundation of Torah Sheba’al Peh. Why not make use of it and carry that responsibility with pride?
I cannot believe that any agunah or mamzer will find comfort in The Lonely Man of Faith when they are forced to live unbearable lives. What is more important? To write beautifully about Halacha’s deep concern for the poor, the helpless, and the humiliated, which outweighs “many many commandments,” but not to act on it? Or, to actually solve the problem of the agunah, the mamzer, and the kohein who can’t marry his loved one because she happens to be a convert?
As Eliezer Berkovits writes, “…the deed is the stuff of which history is made” (11). Deeds, not beautiful abstract ideas!
Due to lack of time, I must now conclude my response to you. The literature and opinions on Rav Soloveitchik’s halachic stand and philosophy are so numerous that one could write many more books on the subject. But I believe that it has already been overdone.
I close with the following. You are indeed misinformed about my personal involvement in practical Halacha. To mention only a few examples: Twice, I have personally married a kohein with a giyoret. In one case, the giyoret was also a gerusha. In these instances, on my own initiative but together with halachic authorities much greater then I, we proved that the kohein was actually not a kohein, and that even after a get was obtained by that specific woman, it became clear that in fact she was not a gerusha, because she was never halachically married. I never openly published our conclusions, because we didn’t want the couples involved to get hurt. I have had major clashes about these cases with European rabbinates that refused to marry these people.
I have done several conversions with a private beit din, when other batei din refused to do so. I have suggested (12) that we allow people to drive bicycles on Shabbat, based on a psak of the Ben Ish Chai, and have advocated a halachically permitted “Shabbat tram” in Yerushalayim, to enable people to see their parents who live far away. I have argued (13) in favor of opening restaurants on Shabbat for those Israelis who have nowhere to go, where they wouldn’t have to pay and where all the laws of Shabbat could be easily observed. An attempt to open such restaurants was blocked by the Rabbanut’s threats to remove its hechsher (certificate of kashrut) from these restaurants!
I have also advocated for relaxing the “chumra of Rabbi Zeira” (14) concerning the duration of abstinence, which prevents couples from having relations more frequently, and which also often leads to difficulty in conceiving. This would no doubt encourage many more couples to observe the laws of family purity (15).
I have suggested (16) that we build “Jewish” cemeteries for children from mixed marriages who are not halachically Jewish, so that they too can have a Jewish burial if they so wish. After all, they are of Zera Yisrael (of Jewish seed, that is, patrilineal descent). For all of these issues I have strong halachic arguments.
Together with Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm of Yeshiva University, I have refused to listen to a psak by the London Beit Din prohibiting participation in the famous Limmud Conference in England – which hosts close to 3000 attendants – because Reform and Conservative rabbis also teach there. I told the Beit Din that I believed this was a major mistake, since it gives the impression that we Orthodox rabbis are afraid of the Reform and Conservative movements; and that by not contributing we are actively handing over all Limmud participants to these denominations (17).
In my new book that will be published in June, Jewish law as Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage, I suggest many practical solutions, including for agunot and mamzerim.
I don’t see myself as a posek, although I know a lot about practical Halacha and believe that I’m well informed on the latest developments in the halachic world. I’m not a member of any official rabbinate, but I am very busy suggesting new possibilities, and I have acted and will continue to act on them, even if the rabbinical establishment does not agree with me. It is time to move forward and not be afraid…
Thanks again for you letter.
1. Rav Soloveitchik’s doctoral thesis was: Das reine Denken und die Seinskonstituierung bei Hermann Cohen (Berlin: Reuther & Reichard, 1932); in English: “Pure Thought as the Constitution of Being in Hermann Cohen’s Philosophy.” See also: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Community, Covenant and Commitment: Selected Letters and Communications, ed. Nathaniel Helfgot (Jersey City, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 2005), p. 272.
2. “U’bikashtem Mi-Sham” was first published in Ha-Darom, vol. 47, 1978, pp. 1-83, reprinted in Ish ha-Halacha: Galuy ve-Nistar (Jerusalem: Elinor Library, 1979), pp. 115-235. An English translation was published years later, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, And from There You Shall Seek, trans. Naomi Goldblum (NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 2009). See also Rav Soloveitchik's letter in Community, Covenant and Commitment: Selected Letters and Communications, ed. Netanel Helfgot (Jersey City, NJ: Ktav, 2005), 321-323, where he explicitly states that the essay that was later published as U’bikashtem Mi-Sham is a continuation of Halakhic Man.
3. “A Tribute to the Rebbetzin of Talne,” Tradition vol. 17, no. 2 (Spring 1978) pp. 76-77. See also: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, “Torah and Shekhinah,” in Family Redeemed: Essays on Family Relationships, eds. David Shatz and Joel B. Wolowelsky (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 2000), pp. 158-180.
4. For Rabbi Soloveitchik’s views on women studying Torah and feminist issues, see Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Community, Covenant and Commitment, xxi, pp. 81-83; Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff, The Rav: The World of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, ed. Joseph Epstein, Volume 2 (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1999), section 13.12 “Women Saying Kaddish,” p. 36; Moshe Meiselman, “The Rav, Feminism and Public Policy: An Insider’s Overview,” Tradition vol. 33, no. 1 (Fall 1998) pp. 5-30; Mayer Twersky, “Halakhic Values and Halakhic Decisions: Rav Soloveitchik’s Pesak Regarding Women’s Prayer Groups,” Tradition vol. 32, no. 3 (Spring 1998) pp. 5-18; Simcha Krauss, “The Rav: On Zionism, Universalism and Feminism,” Tradition vol. 34, no. 2 (2000) pp. 24-39; Seth Farber, “Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Co-Educational Jewish Education,” Conversations 7 (2010) pp. 103-112; Rachel Adler, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Rav J. B. Soloveitchik’s Perspective on Gender,” in Michael A. Meyer and David N. Myers eds. Between Jewish Tradition and Modernity: Rethinking an Old Opposition/Essays in Honor of David Ellenson (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014) pp. 209-220; Tomer Persico, “After Rabbi Soloveitchik: Rabbis Hartman and Lichtenstein on the Status of Women in Halacha,” (Hebrew) accessible online.
5. See Louis Jacobs’ A Tree of Life: Diversity, Flexibility, and Creativity in Jewish Law (London, & Portland, OR: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2000).
6. See Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff, “A Note on R. Saul Lieberman and the Rav,” Tradition vol. 40, no. 4 (Winter 2007) pp. 68-74.
7. Walter S. Wurzburger, “Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik as Posek of Post-Modern Orthodoxy,” Tradition vol. 29, no. 1 (Fall 1994) pp. 5-20. See also Moshe Sokol, “Ger ve-Toshav Anokhi: Modernity and Traditionalism in the Life and Thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik,” idem. pp. 32-47, republished in his book Judaism Examined: Essays in Jewish Philosophy and Ethics (New York: Touro College Press, 2013) pp. 434-450.
8. Crisis and Covenant: Jewish Thought After the Holocaust (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1992), chapters 7, 8, and 9.
9. The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning (New York: Schocken Books, 2011).
10. The following extracts appear in Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1983).
11. God, Man and History, ed. David Hazony (Jerusalem: Shalem Press, 2004), p.138.
12. See Thoughts to Ponder 443, “Bold Ideas: Take the Bike or Tram, Get a Free Coffee, and Observe Shabbat!”
14. The Talmud (Bavli Niddah 66a, Brachot 31a, and Megillah 28b) states: “R. Zeira said: The daughters of Israel have undertaken to be so strict with themselves that if they see a drop of blood no bigger than a mustard seed they wait seven clean days after it.” This stringency lengthens the period of abstinence between husband and wife. The biblical law mandates seven days of separation from the onset of the woman’s menstrual period, whereas the stringency mentioned in the Talmud mandates a separation of seven clean days from the cessation of the menstrual flow. This was codified as law in Mishneh Torah (Hilchot Issurei Biah 11: 3-4, 9) and Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 183:1.
15. See Dr. Daniel Rosenak, Lehachzir Tahara LeYoshna, in Hebrew (Tel Aviv: Yediot Achronot Books and Chemed Books, 2011).
16. See Thoughts to Ponder 215 – “Solving the Conversion Crisis – Part 1.”
17. See Thoughts to Ponder 283 – “Why I Love to Teach at Limmud.”