Issue 8.2: Judaism and Other Faiths

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has given us the Torah of truth, planting everlasting life in our midst. Blessed are You, Giver of the Torah. -Blessing after Torah Reading, ‘The Koren Siddur’...  Read more →

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Orthodox Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue

“I am Joseph, your brother” (Bereishit 45:4). These are the words spoken by Pope John XXIII to an American delegation of Rabbis in October 1960, just one month after he instructed that a draft outlining the relations between the Church and the Jews be prepared.[i] This draft – later to be ... Read more →

Editor’s Thoughts: The Battlefield of Belief

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has given us the Torah of truth, planting everlasting life in our midst. Blessed are You, Giver of the Torah. -Blessing after Torah Reading, ‘The Koren Siddur’ Even if we do not realize it, as Orthodox Jews we are accustomed to ... Read more →

Revel and the Cross

YU’s Thinkers of the Past: A Monthly Column This new monthly column will explore the thoughts and opinions of rabbis of YU’s past, especially as they pertain to the issue of the month. Our first column will discuss an opinion of Rabbi Bernard Revel (1885-1940), the first president of ... Read more →

On the Role of Reason in the Ethical Thought of Aristotle and R. Saadia Ga’on

Left[1] to their own devices, most animals do what they want, when they want. When they’re hungry, they eat. When they’re thirsty, they drink.  When they’re aroused, they copulate. When they’re tired, they sleep. In short, animals spend their days satisfying their instincts. And why ... Read more →

“For They Worship Vanity and Emptiness”: An Attack on Christian Belief?

The tefilah of Aleinu, (“It is our duty”)[i] that is said at the conclusion of the daily tefilot consists of two parts, “Aleinu” until “Ein Od,” and “Al Kein” until “U-shemo Ehad.” The first half, Aleinu, expresses praise of God and proclaims Israel’s recognition and ... Read more →

Learning from Other Nations: An Exploration of “UveHukoteihem Lo Teileikhu”

Ben[i] Zoma said, “Who is wise? He who learns from all people.” (Pirkei Avot 4:1). However, Leviticus 18:3 instructs, “You shall not perform the practices of the land of Egypt where you dwelt and the land of Canaan to which I am taking you and you shall not walk in  their statutes ... Read more →

Bilga and Synthesis: An Ancient Response to the Clash of Universalism and Particularism

Please enjoy this special Hanukkah article, and look out for our upcoming issue on Judaism and other faiths–arriving on the site and in newsstands soon! In October 2014, Jewish sociologist Alan Wolfe published a book entitled, “At Home in Exile: Why Diaspora Is Good for the Jews.” In ... Read more →

Editor’s Thoughts: The Dark Corner of the Beit Midrash

We express gratitude before you, God, our God and the God of our fathers, that you have established our portion with those who dwell in the beit midrash, and have not established our portion with those who sit in corners (Prayer of Rav Nehuniah Ben Ha-Kaneh, Berakhot 28a)[i] In the Yeshivah is ... Read more →

Mikdash to Midrash

“This Sefer Torah should not leave your mouth, and you should delve into it day and night, in order that you will observe all that is written in it, so that you will be prosperous in your path and be successful (Yehoshua 1:8).” Hashem issued this charge to Yehoshua during the first moments ... Read more →

The Ancient Beit Midrash and the Modern Academy: An Exploration of Origins and Methodology

If you were to visit a Geonic yeshiva during the months of Elul and Adar you would find a situation not too dissimilar from a modern beit midrash. There would be students hearing a lecture from a teacher, all of them having a set place to sit. Everyone would be studying the designated masekhta ... Read more →

Bein Adam le-Havrutato? Arguments and Insults in Halakhic Literature

Over the course of Elul the yeshiva put a strong emphasis on Hilkhot bein adam le-haveiro. There were various shiurim quoting numerous sources from gemara, Rishonim, and others, about the importance of mutual respect and common decency. But strikingly, when we look at the texts from which these ... Read more →

The First Beit Midrash: The Yeshivah of Shem and Eber

The first historically known beit midrash probably began during the era of the Second Temple. The Pharisees, unlike the Sadducees, emphasized that Torah learning, and not only temple service, was a vital aspect of Jewish life. Thus, physical centers of Jewish learning slowly became the heart of ... Read more →

If Men Were Angels

1. “The Torah was not given to the ministering angels” On February 6, 1788, James Madison, the “father of the American constitution,” published Federalist No. 51, in which he outlined his plan for limiting the power of the federal government. “If men were angels, no government would ... Read more →

Havruta or Death: An Analysis of Havruta Learning in Light of Hegel’s Lord and Bondsman Dialectic

I Talmud Torah and its practice in the Beit Midrash may count as the ultimate mitsvah,[1] but as a means of avodat Hashem it focuses on rigorous intellectual activity. The traditional Jewish method for pursuing talmud Torah stands in stark contrast to standard academic methods. The western ... Read more →