Wednesday, May 05, 2010

New Periodical: Emor 1 (Jan 2010)

A new issue of the journal Emor (no. 1, January 2010). The inaugural issue (link) was in English and Italian. This one is in English and Hebrew.

  • Remembering Rabbi Prof. Emanuel Rackman - Brief excerpts from One Man's Judaism
  • The Sanctity of Space, Time and Persons: A Jewish Perspective by R. Daniel Sperber - Taking the mystical side of Menachem Kellner's dichotomy (link) and ascribing sanctity as an inherent quality.
  • The Feminist Contribution to Halakhic Discourse: Kol Be-Isha Erva as a Test Case by Prof. Tamar Ross - It is unclear to me what is Prof. Ross' personal views and what are aspects of a general feminist critique that she is describing. However, the claim that Chazal and all subsequent transmitters of the Jewish tradition were biased by their gender seems to me to be too similar to those who historicize halakhic decision-making, attributing traditions and decisions to historical and social conditions, which I believe Rav Soloveitchik denounced as heresy in his famous 1975 lecture to the RCA. In a single term: "makhchish magideha" (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Teshuvah 3:8). Again, I have no idea what Prof. Ross personally believes but this radical feminist critique is not Orthodox.
  • On Mixed Marriages and Conversion to Judaism, Specifically in the State of Israel by Alfredo Mordechai Rabello - A statement of the current conversion dilemma in Israel and a call for finding an acceptable solution that is not overly rigid nor overly compromising.
  • Ideas for Improving Torah Education in Yeshivot
  • The Beth Midrash of Avraham Avinu by R. Nathan Lopes Cardozo - A radical essay we once discussed (link) calling for greater questioning of authority and tradition in order to deepen our bonds with God.
  • Torah -- A Life-Giving Medicine by Dr. Yael Unterman - Using Nechama Leibowitz as an example of the ideal teacher, although differing with her on a few methods such as the teacher revealing her own struggles and showing students the relevance to them in the material studied.
  • Hermeneutics and Values: Issues in Improving Contemporary Talmud Teaching by R. Avraham Walfish - A critique of "dogmatic" teaching, in which students are taught to accept the authority of the Talmud. Since so many students lack the background of faith for that, R. Walfish advocates "inductive" teaching, wherein students are taught to argue with the talmudic disputants and find meaning and relevance in their discussions. R. Aharon Lichtenstein has argued with R. Yehuda Brandes (link) about the use of experimental techniques. I'm just surprised that R. Walfish finds students who won't accept the Talmud's authority. I guess I just live in a very different community.

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