KHM 8_4 Covershot

Issue 8.4: Tanakh in the 21st Century: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

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.” These days, children’s games have fallen quite far from their heyday in former generations.  Read more →

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Rabbeinu Tam Won’t Sign Off On Your Dusty Tanakh

I. At this point, it is somewhat of a truism to observe that a renaissance in Tanakh study is underway. One can hardly ignore the growth of interest in Tanakh-related Yemei Iyun, the resurgence of insightful and groundbreaking books on sifrei Tanakh by Orthodox teachers and scholars, and the ... Read more →

God’s Three Keys and the Dialogue between Talmud and Tanakh

“Talmudic text that comments on some verses of Scripture calls in its turn for interpretation. Its intentions are not immediately apparent; its exposition can surprise a novice, and allows for several levels and dimensions of meaning,[i]” wrote the twentieth century French philosopher, ... Read more →

Cross-Pollination as a Method of Biblical Interpretation: A Case Study

When we pick up a work of military theory or a history of war, we expect it to be written clearly, factually, and to-the-point.  Metaphors, symbolism, and allegory belong to Du Fu, not to Sun Tzu; to Sophocles, not to Thucydides; to von Goethe, not to von Clausewitz. In most cases, our Torah ... Read more →

Toward Understanding Biblical Gapping: Genesis 38 as a Case Study

The 20th century literary critic Erich Auerbach (1892-1957) famously wrote that some biblical narratives and their characters are “fraught with background.”[1] While there are moments of action in these biblical stories, the thoughts of characters are suggested, rather than explicitly ... Read more →

When Torah Comes to Life: Abarbanel and the Concept of Peshat

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began arguably the most important speech of his life, his controversial 2014 address to Capitol Hill with the following words. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy ... Read more →

(Where) Have All the Theologians Gone? Some Reflection on the Contemporary State of Orthodox Theology

Miriam Shaviv, in a review of Marc Shapiro’s “Limits of Orthodox Theology,” provocatively states that his book proves that, for the Jewish intellectual landscape, “the need is not only for theological discussions, but for theology. Both are sadly lacking.”[i] Whether or not this is an ... Read more →

Editor’s Thoughts: Is there an Ideal Jewish Community?

The fourth Mishnah in the second chapter of Pirkei Avot teaches “al tifrosh min ha-tzibbur— do not separate from the community.” Community is an integral aspect of Jewish practice and we have mitzvot such as those that fall under “devarim she-bikedusha” that cannot be done by ... Read more →

Of Blood and Hope: Building a Community: Lessons Learned with Max Profeta

In Parashat Vayechi, after Ya’akov’s death, the Torah spends numerous verses describing the narrative of the mourning process for Ya’akov as well as his funeral procession to Eretz Yisrael. Amongst what is a rather lengthy description, there’s one verse which seems somewhat unnecessary; ... Read more →

Communal Cry: The Paradox of Tefillah Be-Tsibbur

A well-known midrash[i] gives prayer the moniker “avodah she-be-leiv,” “service of the heart.” Tefillah thus takes on an intensely individual character. Unsurprisingly, the image of Hannah’s highly personal prayer dominates our heritage’s perspective on shemoneh esreih, the ... Read more →

Rabbi Shimon Shkop’s Imitatio Dei and the Value of Fun

Of the lesser-known teachers of RIETS’ past, Rabbi Shimon Shkop (1860-1939) definitely ranks near the top of the list. That isn’t to say that Rabbi Shimon Shkop is less-known. Far from it, as a close colleague of Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan (the “Chofetz Chaim”) and Rabbi Chaim Ozer ... Read more →

Joining the IDF – An American Religious Zionist’s Dilemma

Of the Korahites. A Psalm. A Song. The Lord loves the gates of Zion His foundation on the holy mountains, More than all the dwelling of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you O city of God.   Selah. I mention Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me; Philistia, and Tyre and Cush – ... Read more →

Moshe Strikes the Rock: Failed Leadership, or Failed “Followership?”

I. A well-known Native American proverb states: “Never criticize a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.” This is straightforward advice, yet it can be notoriously difficult to implement. According to social psychologists, we tend to underestimate the role that people’s ... Read more →

When Nature Rebels: Insights from Rabbi Soloveitchik’s The Lonely Man of Faith

Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 present two parallel accounts of the creation of the world and, specifically, mankind. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik addresses this issue in his seminal work, The Lonely Man of Faith, which was originally published as an essay in the journal Tradition in 1965.[i] In ... Read more →

Elu Va-elu Divrei Elokim Hayyim and the Question of Multiple Truths

The[i] Mishnah in Masekhet Avot teaches about two types of Mahloket. It states, “Every dispute that is [for the sake of] heaven’s name, it is destined to endure. But if it is not [for the sake of] heaven’s name—it is not destined to endure.” The Mishnah continues to explain, ... Read more →