Category: Issue 9.3: History and Storytelling

Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor

The history of mankind is made up of our stories. Jewish history is no exception; our collective narrative is comprised of a great meddling of stories, from the histories of Philo of Alexandria to...

Remembering and Reremembering the Menorah: Reflections of a Jewish Historian

Remembering and Reremembering the Menorah: Reflections of a Jewish Historian

Recently I concluded The Menorah: from the Bible to Modern Israel (Harvard University Press, 2016). This volume is a personal history, my own “take” on the biblical menorah and its place in western civilization....

Keeping Our Oldest Story Relevant – The Haggadah of Don Yitzchak Abarbanel

Keeping Our Oldest Story Relevant – The Haggadah of Don Yitzchak Abarbanel

Storytelling[1] has been a part of Jewish history since the inception of the Jewish nation. One of the first commandments we received as a nation was a multi-part commandment to tell the story of the...

The Science of the Past: Reading History on Shabbat

The Science of the Past: Reading History on Shabbat

May one read history books on Shabbat? Although it may seem to be an innocuous activity, reading history actually poses several halakhic and hashkafic problems, some of which may apply even during the week....

The Missing Two Hundred Years and the Historical Veracity of Hazal

The Missing Two Hundred Years and the Historical Veracity of Hazal

Modern Jews often encounter a tug of war between scholarship and rabbinic tradition. Hazal have left us with an extensive and exacting record of what to do and what to believe. It is our...

Comparing the Parallel Historical Accounts of the Talmud and Josephus

Comparing the Parallel Historical Accounts of the Talmud and Josephus

Several historical accounts found in the Talmud are paralleled by accounts recorded earlier in the works of Josephus, the first-century Roman Jewish historian. While the rabbinic sages of the Talmud (Hazal) surely had historical...

Jewish Identity Informed by Historical Consciousness: A Contemporary Orthodox Perspective

Jewish Identity Informed by Historical Consciousness: A Contemporary Orthodox Perspective

In a recently published essay, Rabbi Dr. Carmi Horowitz presents a reverent intellectual-biographical sketch of his formidable teacher, the late Professor Isadore Twersky. In the course of describing the legacy of the complicated man...

Of Perspective and Paradox: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Analysis of Holiness

Of Perspective and Paradox: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Analysis of Holiness

In the opening of his famous essay “Sacred and Profane,”[1] Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik writes, “In the same fashion that kodesh and hol form the spiritual framework of our halakha, so do the kodesh...

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and the Problem of Biblical Criticism

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and the Problem of Biblical Criticism

Did the Rav, R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, deal with the major theological issues that result from the conclusions of Biblical criticism?[1] On the face of it, he did not. In fact, he seemed generally...