Issue 9.3: History and Storytelling

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 the folk tales of Chelm. The stories we were told as children, the stories we tell others, the stories we pass on- each and everyone of these will continue to add another layer to the great historical stratigraphy of the Jewish People.  Read more →

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Latest Articles

For it is not in Heaven…or is it?: On the Halakhot and Hashkafot of Space Travel

On the twentieth of July 1969, after four days of travel, two men set foot on the moon for the first time in history. Hundreds of millions heard Commander Neil Armstrong’s famous words “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” as he traversed the final frontier.[i] The ... Read more →

The Jewish Response to the Theory of Evolution

The question of how to proceed when science and Torah seem to be in conflict is not new among rabbinic figures. Over the centuries, various strategies have been used to provide what is, in the views of each individual rabbinic authority, the proper approach when this occurs, whether it be ... Read more →

Of Sensitivity and Humility: An Exposition of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein’s Approach to the Suffering of Others

  Over the course of the last century, two immeasurably significant events occurred in Jewish history. The first was the Holocaust, which consisted of the murder of six million Jews and the suffering of countless more. The second was the establishment of the State of Israel, a redemption ... Read more →

Rashi, Tosafot, and Hazal’s Knowledge of Tanakh

  The Jerusalem Talmud[i] records the tradition that the Tannaitic sage Shmuel could recall the midwife who delivered him. R. Yehoshua ben Levi stated that he could remember his mohel. R. Yohanan claimed he could even remember the women who happened to be in the room when his mother gave ... Read more →

Maimonides and the Mean of Doctrines

Just about every essay written about Maimonides and the contradictions apparent in his philosophic magnum opus, the Guide for the Perplexed, begins with some pithy statement about how Maimonides’ use of contradictions created more controversy than conclusions. Arthur Hyman, in his essay, ... Read more →

Sanctuary and Sacrifice: Rambam’s View of Korbanot

Introduction Earlier this year, writing for The Times of Israel, in an open letter to God, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz claimed that the idea of animal sacrifice is outdated. “Your people,” he writes, addressing Hashem, “must be a light to the nations, not a source of darkness by returning to ... Read more →

Editor’s Thoughts: A Philosophical Approach

As a result of its gruesome explication in the liturgies of Yom Kippur and Tish’ah be-Av, the death of R. Hanina ben Teradyon, one of the Ten Martyrs, is a widely known story. A version of this aggadah, recorded in the Sifrei Devarim,[i] describes that when it was decreed that R. Hanina ben ... Read more →

Behind the Beards: A Philosophical Survey of Modern Orthodox Neo-Hasidism

  You have seen their flowing beards and pe’ot. You have seen their gartlach (prayer belts) and pocket editions of Sihot Ha-Ran. Perhaps you have even seen them clap and jump in your otherwise uneventful morning minyan. We all call them neo-Hassidim, a term coined to account for the ... Read more →

What is Divine “Power?”

  Can God create a rock so heavy that even He cannot lift it? Theologians have been debating this question, known formally as the “omnipotence paradox,” since at least the middle ages. In a sense, the premise behind it is nonsensical: to suggest that something unlimited might actually ... Read more →

Ahad Ha’am and His Dream for Israel’s Soul

On December 21, 2014, the second night of Hanukkah, Project 929, an online initiative committed to studying one chapter of Tanakh each day, was launched.  The goal of the site is to “help Israelis from all walks of life understand how the biblical text is relevant to them from a social ... Read more →

Rav Hutner and Kindness on Rosh Hashanah

I – Introduction Rav Yitzchok Hutner was one of the most influential Orthodox philosophers and theologians of the twentieth century. As Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Rabbi Chaim Berlin, he became well known for his ma’amarim, discourses on Jewish theology, that he would deliver to students ... Read more →

Editor’s Thoughts: Reflections of an Unrepentant Tanakh Enthusiast

R. Simeon b. Eleazar testified on the authority of R. Simeon b. Hanina: He who reads a verse at its proper time brings good to the world, as it is written, “And a word spoken in its proper time, how good is it.” [i] [ii] These days, children’s games have fallen quite far from their ... Read more →

Of Angels and Men: Peshat As A Universal Tool

In the opening pages of Family Redeemed, Rabbi Soloveitchik proclaims:[i] [ii] “I am sorry to say that many Jews don’t look to Bible for guidance and that its spiritual message, so indispensable for man today, is completely ignored. Our approach to Biblical interpretation is too often ... Read more →

R. Zvi Dov Kanotopsky and the Kosher Switch

YU’s Thinkers of the Past: A Series A series of articles exploring the ideas and opinions of rabbis of YU’s past, especially as they pertain to the issue of the month. We have seen Dean Revel’s response to the dean of a college with crosses on their diplomas. We have seen Rabbi ... Read more →