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Reading Soloveitchik

The occasion of my first encounter with the theology of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik was a reading group at my wife’s synagogue. We were then living in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Elihu Milder, the rabbi then serving at Tifereth Israel, organized a group to discuss Soloveitchik’s spiritual classic, Halakhic Man. Continue Reading »

A King in Israel

Israel is a Jewish state but has not succeeded in defining just what that means in a national constitution. Although the 1948 Declaration of Independence called for the enactment of a constitution within months of the state’s inception, nothing has been achieved beyond a fragmentary “Basic . . . . Continue Reading »

Is Jesus the Messiah?

It all depends what the meaning  of “is,” is.Is Jesus the Messiah now? Bloody unlikely. Whether your political rogue du jour is Obama or Palin, politicians lie, the elderly and sick die (panels or no panels), wars arise and end with predictable pace; how long does this ellipsis have . . . . Continue Reading »

Leviathan and the Jews

Sometimes it takes days, weeks, or even months for insight into the significance of an obscure text to gestate. And then sometimes it merely takes a serendipitous intersection of disparate sources. In The Star of Redemption, Franz Rosenzweig presented “Christianity” as a worldly . . . . Continue Reading »

A Kingdom of Priests; A Kingdom of Spirit

Rabbinical Judaism begins with three simple directives:  ”Be moderate in judgement, and raise up many students, and make a fence around the Torah.” The most difficult thing for a Christian to understand about Judaism is its concern with legal process, guided by a profound . . . . Continue Reading »

“Salvation is of the Jews”

...the sad thing is that you cannot be a Christian and take the Jews seriously at the same time. Or, if you can, it is a very very difficult thing to do… (Not Even the Rain, on Spengler’s Forum)The spiritual man is able to endure a duplication in himself; by his understanding he is able . . . . Continue Reading »

Jewish Survival in a Gentile World

There are only two possible strategies for Jewish survival in a gentile world. One is to be tolerated. The other is to be indispensable. The first strategy hopes that if every minority is tolerated, then perhaps even the Jews, the minority with the longest history of persecution, might also be . . . . Continue Reading »

Impassioned Dialogue

Forget the cookies and tea, the polite mutual admiration societies, the committee draftsmanship of pious theses that plague the academic industry known as Jewish-Christian dialogue. Here we pour high-proof schnaps, straight from the barrel. The Christian-Jewish engagement is nothing, if it is . . . . Continue Reading »

Orthodoxy and Reticence

It has been forty years since my revered teacher Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, popularly known as “the Rav” by his followers in the modern wing of American Orthodoxy, presented his paper “Confrontation” to the Rabbinical Council of America. The paper was later published in the Council’s . . . . Continue Reading »

Saving Chicago

When I heard that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) planned to send 100,000 volunteers to Chicago next summer to evangelize the city, my first reaction was, Good luck. (Perhaps I have been living in New York too long.) Evangelism, of course, is essential to Christianity. The Great Commission . . . . Continue Reading »

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