Friday, December 8, 2023

What do we mean by תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם?


the importance of mitzvos

What do we mean by תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם?

DH: What do we mean by תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם?

Rabbi Soloveitchik: It is not that this mitzvah is equal to all the mitzvos, but rather that it brings the person to do all the other mitzvos. The whole purpose of the limud is that it comes to asiah and asiah is the ikur.

The Rav Thinking Aloud, p. 69

Thursday, December 7, 2023

not enclosed within the confines of cult sanctuaries

 "It [halacha] does not differentiate between the man who stands in his house of worship engaged in ritual activities and the mortal who must wage the arduous battle of life. The halachah declares that man stands before G-d, not only in the synagogue, but also in the public domain- in his house, while on a journey, while lying down and rising up....

The halachah is not enclosed within the confines of cult sanctuaries, but penetrates into every nook and cranny of life- the marketplace, the street, the factory, the house, the meeting place, the banquet hall- all constitute the backdrop for religious life."

R' Joseph Soloveitchik

Halakhic Man, pp. 93-94, cited in Rabbi_Beinish__Ginsburg/Behar-_Serve_Hashem_Everywhere

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Rav Elchonon Wasserman

 Rav Henoch Cohen, an early student of the Rav, says in his article in Mentor of Generations that when he was at Torah v'Das he met R Wasserman who said, "I don't know why people talk so unfavorably about Rav Yoshe Ber. I was there in Boston and I never saw somebody eat, sleep, and dream Torah as he did." (p. 3) 

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and the Problem of Biblical Criticism

 Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and the Problem of Biblical Criticism (

By Aryeh Sklar

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 unconcerned with the historical-critical method that so dominates academia. In part based on this supposed fact, Moshe Sokol and David Singer declare that the Rav should not be considered truly “Modern Orthodox.”[2] This should be surprising to anyone who knows the Rav’s legacy as a great Modern Orthodox leader who courageously confronted the challenges of modernity – modern-day Maimonides. Sokol states boldly, “In my judgment this is the myth of R. Soloveitchik, a myth which for good sociological reasons found enormous currency amongst many Modern Orthodox Jews, who required an authority figure to make sense of and to some degree justify their participation in modernity.”

Sokol suggests several reasons why he thinks the Rav did not deal with these issues.[3] Firstly, he contends, the Rav had a philosophical orientation that did not care too overly much about history and texts, but instead about abstract categories.[4] Sokol’s second suggestion is that the Rav understood all too well the potential religious problems inherent in the study and discussion of Biblical criticism, and decided therefore not to confront it at all. He suggests that this ties into what he believes is a third reason, that the Rav sees the religious “man-child” as an ideal. After all, the Rav has stated:

The adult is too smart. Utility is his guiding-light. The experience of God is not a businesslike affair. Only the child can breach the boundaries that segregate the finite from the infinite. Only the child with his simple faith and fiery enthusiasm can make the miraculous leap into the bosom of God.[5]


 Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and the Problem of Biblical Criticism ( 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

drafting women

The Rav was NOT in favor of drafting women. He was against going public with that position against the State of Israel at that time.  – Rav Aaron Rakeffet

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Walking with the Rav: In memory of Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik - Artutz Sheva


To recognize a person means to affirm that he is irreplaceable. To hurt a person means to tell him that he is expendable, that there is no n

Monday, April 10, 2023

lmof, great film but a possible error

LMOF is a great documentary. I have watched it 20 times. It’s very inspiring. But there’s a mistake or two. Here’s one of them. Rabbi JJ Schacter is talking about the Rav’s “complicated relationship with the yeshiva world” and the documentary shows a photo of the Rav with the Lub. Rebbe with whom he did NOT have a complicated relationship and who is NOT in the yeshiva world. (51:39) [Compare to 4:06 in] They were old friends who supported one another without criticism. So this is an error. Or it seems to be. Maybe you can say that his support of the Rebbe further complicated his relationship with the yeshiva world and that's what this photo is all about. But I think you'd have to explain that to the audience. So I think it's a mistake. But that aside, wonderful film.



Excerpt: The Rebbe and the Rav

Saturday, April 8, 2023

teach hebrew

In the 1948 meeting notes for the Maimonides school, we see the following:

Question was raised of teaching children Hebrew in Hebrew. Mrs. Soloveitchik pointed out that the Hebrew Dept. of the school stressed the religious content so that the Hebrew language had been neglected. However, for the past few years, the Rabbi [Soloveitchik] has asked the Hebrew teachers to use more Hebrew and great attention to the language and grammar is now being paid. (Minutes book of the Maimonides School, May 29, 1948, p. 16 in Farber, An American Orthodox Dreamer, p. 116)


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Slavery and fear

“The slave lives in fear. He is afraid not only of those who are stronger than he or of those who have jurisdiction over him; the slave is afraid of contradicting anyone, of antagonizing even a stranger. The fear might be unjustified, but this fear is the motivating force in his life.” (An Exalted Evening, p. 23)

Monday, April 3, 2023

Marking the 30th Yahrtzeit of Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik zt"l



7:00 p.m. at BMTL 

(1 Rechov Asher)

Rav Moshe Lichtenstein, Rav Meyer Lichtenstein, and Rav Avishai David 



8:00 p.m. at OYM

Rav Kenneth Brander and Rav Chaim Ilson



9:30 a.m. at Kehilat Nofei Hashemesh

Rav Aharon Rakefet


9:30 a.m. at BMTL 

Rav Hershel Schachter



8:00 p.m. at Netzach Menashe

18 רחוב ראובן

Rav Aharon Adler and Rav Dovid Miller



8:00 p.m. at Beit Knesset Feigenson

Womens Beit Medrash Initiative

Speakers TBA

BMTL – Rechov Asher 1, Bet Shemesh, Israel 99544

Nofei HaShemesh: Rechov Sitvanit 1

Bet Haknesset Ohel Yonah Menachem 17 Shivtei Yisrael, Sheinfeld, Bet Shemesh, Israel

Netzach Menashe 18 רחוב ראובן, Bet Shemesh, Israel 99544

Beit Knesset Feigenson - Nofei Aviv 29 Hashoshan Street, Beit Shemesh, 99591, Israel

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Lectures of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik: The Relationship between Halakhah, Aggadah, and Kabbalah

 Microsoft Word - Zelcer (

Driving Rav Soloveichik By Rabbi Ari Kahn

 A new generation or two have grown who “did not know Yosef.” They have certainly heard his name, or have heard about him. They have heard countless teachings in his name; they have been inspired by his students, or by his student’s students, or perhaps even by their students in turn – but they didn’t know him. Of course, I am referring to the towering, undisputed leader of twentieth-century centrist Orthodoxy, Rabbi Dr. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik – “The Rav.”

For the most part, the youngest students in the Rav’s last shiurim in the early 1980s are by now grandparents (including the writer of these lines).

continue article

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Rav Soloveitchik and the Lubavitcher Rebbe: An Unlikely Friendship by RABBI MENACHEM GENACK

At first glance, one would think that Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, widely known as “the Rav,” and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, better known as “the Rebbe,” would not have shared much in common. These two great men were representatives of two opposing schools within Judaism. The Rav was a seventh-generation descendant of Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner, the founder of the Volozhin Yeshiva, the template for all Lithuanian yeshivos. Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner was also the outstanding disciple of the Gaon of Vilna, the leader of the opposition to Chassidism. The Rav’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all leading rabbis in the Lithuanian mold, without an ounce of Chassidism between them. Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik (Reb Chaim Brisker), the Rav’s grandfather, was the innovator of the “Brisker derech,” a method of Talmudic study that seeks to uncover the concepts underlying the halachah, but which never ventures beyond halachah into the realm of mysticism or philosophy. The intellectual and sometimes austere Talmudism of the Rav’s forebears is depicted in his work Halakhic Man:




Rav Soloveitchik and the Lubavitcher Rebbe: An Unlikely Friendship - Jewish Action



virtual videos

Introducing "virtual videos" featuring recordings of the Rav. Translation and subtitles by Arnold Lustiger.

 Mesoras Harav Videos (

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Drasha from Rav Soloveitchik on Pesach





Pesach: Writing a Story upon a People - חג הפסח: כתיבת סיפור על העם




Presented in the 1950's.


To turn on subtitles, click on the gear icon in the bottom right

כדי לראות כתוביות בעברית, לחץ על איקון גלגל השיניים


0:00- 6:32: The etymology of the word sipur

6:33 - 9:55: The Sefer Yetzirah and the creation of writing

9:56 - 21:15: Closing the generation gap

21:15 - 26:29: The burden of the prophet

26:30 - 28:34: The burden of the parent

28:35 - 33:47: The theme of the seder in B'nei Brak

Saturday, March 18, 2023

linked post: notice of his passing: Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Leading Light of Orthodox Jewry, Mourned in Boston

Thousands of students and disciples gathered in Boston on Sunday to pay respect to Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the central intellectual and religious figure behind American Orthodox Judaism.

Soloveitchik, 90, died of heart failure April 8, at the end of the third day of Passover.

A master of the worlds of Jewish law and Jewish thought, he was almost universally referred to as “the Rav,” the rabbi and teacher par excellence.


Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Leading Light of Orthodox Jewry, Mourned in Boston - Jewish Telegraphic Agency (



Dr. Atarah Twersky daughter of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik passes away at 90

The Rav's daughter Atarah passed away recently. I met her in Boston and corresponded with her a bit. She was very gracious to me. I was very impressed by her. She was a very intelligent and unpretentious woman.  Article from Arutz Sheva:

Dr. Atarah Twersky daughter of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik passes away at 90 | ערוץ 7 (

Dr. Atarah Twersky, the widow of Professor Isadore Twersky, daughter of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, passed away on Friday afternoon at 90.

Dr. Twersky was the sister of Dr. Tovah Lichtenstein, YU Professor of Jewish History Dr. Haym Soloveitchik, and mother of RIETS (Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary) Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Mayer Twersky, Tzipporah Rosenblatt, and Rabbi Moshe Twersky, who was murdered in his synagogue in Jerusalem by a Palestinian terrorist in 2014.

The funeral in the US will take place on Saturday evening at 8:15 PM at JFK Airport: EL AL Cargo,123 North Hangar Road Jamaica, New York.

The funeral in Israel will take place Sunday at the Jerusalem Municipal Funeral Parlor (Shamgar) 2 hours after the arrival of LY 008, scheduled to arrive at 5:10 PM.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

cleaving to God

 Mystical philosophers long for immersion in the silence of absolute unity. The Greek philosopher Plotinus and all those who followed him were filled with such secret longings. But Judaism’s goal is not the same as that of the mystics with their via negativa, or negative way. The latter aspired to overcome the variety and uniqueness of man’s personality, recommending the negation of people’s variegated mental and physical existence for the sake of attaining pure, simple unity with no objective content. In denying the ontic independence of human beings, they came to deny their essence as well. They therefore recommended the via purgativa (method of elimination), which leads to unio mystica (mystic unification). The individual must empty out the content of his variegated life and freeze into a focal eternal point, lacking all dimension and context, and confine himself to the One.

But Judaism, directed by the Halakha says, “This is not the way.” First of all, one cannot speak of man uniting with God, but only of man cleaving to God. Second, man does not cleave to God by denying his actual essence, but, on the contrary, by affirming his own essence. The actual, multicolored human personality becomes closer to God when the individual lives his own variegated original life, filled with goals, initiative, and activity, without imagining some prideful insolent independence. Then and only then does the personality begin to have a divine existence. Judaism insists that destroying man’s uniqueness and originality does not bring man closer to God, as the mystics imagined. Man’s road to God does not wind among faraway hidden places – in which man concentrates on a mysterious pyre in which his individuality goes up in flames – but, rather, among the spaces of real being, filled with movement and transformation. (Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, And From There You Shall Seek, MeOtzar HaRav, pp. 87-88)