Marc Shapiro: ‘In older pictures you find rabbis walking down the aisle at weddings. Has anyone been to a wedding where this is still done?’

R. Soloveitchik and R. Samuel Walkin_small

Marc posts another picture of R. Moshe, the Rav, and R. Shneur Kotler:

R. Soloveitchik, R. Feinstein, R. S. Kotler_small

R. Soloveitchik and R.  Feinstein and R. Isaac Tendler 1_small

“It was taken at the wedding of R. Moshe Dovid Tendler’s daughter, Rivka, to R. Shabtai Rappaport. The man on the left is R. Isaac Tendler, R. Moshe Dovid’s father. The wedding took place at the Pioneer Country Club, Greenfield Park, N.Y., on June 17, 1971.”

Dr. Shapiro writes:

I would also like to call attention to the wonderful introduction to the book by R. Ovadiah Hoffman. He speaks about the need to reject religious extremism that leads to the delegitimization of Torah scholars just because they belong to a different camp. As I mentioned in my last post, this is a great problem in Israeli haredi society, and R. Ovadiah Yosef in particular was subjected to all sorts of attacks from small-minded people who could not recognize the simple truth R. Ovadiah Hoffman speaks about…

The ever-productive Menachem Kellner has just published a new book, Gam Hem Nikraim Adam: Ha-Nokhri be-Einei ha-Rambam, available here. This is not just a work of academic scholarship, but is what we can call “engaged scholarship,” in other words, scholarship that is also intent on making a difference in the real world. One of the things that troubles Kellner about contemporary Orthodox Judaism (and he specifically deals with such figures as R. Shlomo Aviner, R. Hershel Schachter, and the authors of Torat ha-Melekh) is the recent turn (or perhaps better, return) to negative portrayals of non-Jews and their spiritual worth. Kellner discusses this in the first section of the book which is titled גילוי דעת, and you can read it here. See also his interview with Alan Brill here.

In the book, Kellner argues that Maimonides sees no essential difference between Jews and non-Jews, and it is this view that Kellner wishes his readers to adopt. He refers to it as “Maimonides’ universalism.” Responses to Kellner’s book will be of two types: Those that deal with his interpretation of Maimonides and those that focus on what Kellner has to say about the contemporary scene and how Maimonides relates to it. This is a very exciting book which further establishes Kellner as an important public intellectual, and shows us once again why Kellner’s work has had a significant impact on the study of medieval Jewish philosophy. I hope to take up some of Kellner’s points in a future post…

R. Simcha Feuerman has recently published Et Lifrosh ve-Et le-Ehov. This small book, available at Biegeleisen, focuses on issues of shelom bayit. What makes this book significant is that R. Feuerman is also a licensed social worker with great experience in the field. This makes his book different than many previous books on the topic authored by well-intentioned people who never actually had any practical experience. As is fitting for a book like this, sexual matters are also discussed, and R. Feuerman mentions (p. 13) that the book was shown to rabbis and dayanim. Yet other than R. Gavriel Zinner, who penned a haskamah, none of the other rabbis chose to be public in their support because of their fear of being attacked by extremists who don’t think that these matters should be publicly discussed.

R. Feuerman also deals with the matter of psychological counseling and possible conflicts between the role of the psychologist, who is not supposed to be judgmental, and the traditional obligation to rebuke those who are sinning. As part of this essay (pp. 88ff.), R. Feuerman discusses the value of Freud’s insights (and notes the advances that have been made since his time). I find this significant since for many in the haredi world, and they are the ones who will be reading this book, Freud is almost up there with Darwin when it comes to objects of derision. It is also worth noting that the author uses “lomdus” to make psychological arguments.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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