Sunday, October 04, 2009

New Periodical: Tradition 42:2

New issue of Tradition 42:2 (Summer 2009) (link):

  • You Taught Me Musar and the Profit On It by R. Shalom Carmy -- The negative impact of cynical and derisive rabbe'im.

  • A Tale of Two Men in One City by Judy Taubes Sterman -- An intriguing new interpretation of the parable Nosson the prophet tells King David as a rebuke for the Bassheva incident (both men in the parable refer to different aspects of David's personality). Ultimately not convincing but clever and with profound psychological implications.

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  • Doctors and Medical Knowledge in Tosafist Circles by R. Aryeh Leibowitz -- A thorough investigation which concludes that Tosafists were not only positively disposed to the practice of medicine but somewhat versed in medical knowledge. I'm just not sure whether we can generalize to the extent that we say that all Tosafists shared the same views.

  • Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Ba-Zeh by R. Reubeen Rudman -- An analysis of different aspects of the concept, albeit fairly impressionistic (i.e. a few sources here and there on each topic rather than a comprehensive analysis). It seems to me more like a (good!) lecture than a thorough essay.

  • Our Poor and Their Poor: Philosophical Reflections by Prof. Baruch Brody -- A values-analysis of the ethical considerations in differentiating between Jewish and Gentile poor in charity-giving. This is similar to the type of values-analysis I tried to conduct in my recent essay on women's ordination and is, I believe, the way most complex halakhic decisions are made. I would benefit from Prof. Brody's essay being translated into halakhic categories and jargon but that isn't really his interest.

  • A Note on the Introduction to the Priestly Benediction (Birkat Kohanim) by Dr. Ben Zion Katz -- I thought this would be a boring article but it wasn't at all. It is a review of the positions and considerations in determining the wording of thr reference to kohanim in the introduction to the Priestly Benediction. The article made me aware of the issues and sources, but after that I don't see how it added much beyond a summary. It essentially ends with an unanswered question.

  • Survey of Recent Halakhic Literature: In the Wake of Birkat Ha-Hammah 5769 by R. J. David Bleich -- A review of the new literature that emerged for this latest cycle (including a post on the Seforim blog and an article in the journal Hakirah, but not our e-book), as well as clarifications of some halakhic and philosophical issues on the subject (including the issue of Constant Creation vs. Constant Conservation that I asked R. Bleich about).

  • Communications -- A discussion by Dr. Baruch Alster of Bar Ilan and R. Shalom Carmy about the value of respectful discussion of human flaws in biblical characters. A detailed discussion of the "shifting sands" problem in explaining the Bible in line with contemporary science. According to Dr. Maier Becker, this is a fatal flaw. Dr. David Shatz responds at length, pointing out that 1) all interpretations are subject to replacement by later suggestions, 2) other modern tools such as philology and literary theory are subject to "shifting sands" as well, 3) leads to the suggestion that we cannot interpret the Bible to match any scientific statement, and 4) undercuts the acceptance of contemporary science even outside of discussions of biblical interpretation (I could be misstating or simply missing some of his points).

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