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Halakhic Man [Paperback]

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Item description for Halakhic Man by Joseph B. Soloveitchik...

"Halakhic Man" is the classic work of modern Jewish and religious thought by the twentieth century's preeminent Orthodox Jewish theologian and talmudic scholar. It is a profound excursion into religious psychology and phenomenology, a pioneering attempt at a philosophy of halakhah, and a stringent critique of mysticism and romantic religion.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Jewish Publication Society of America
Pages   164
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 1984
Publisher   Jewish Publication Society of America
ISBN  0827603975  
ISBN13  9780827603974  

Availability  107 units.
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More About Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! JOSEPH B. SOLOVEITCHIK was born in Russia in 1903 into a family of eminent Eastern European rabbis. In 1932 he became the chief rabbi of Boston, where he lived until his death in 1993. He founded the Maimonides School in Boston and for many years traveled to New York City to teach at Yeshiva University.

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Product Categories

2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism

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Reviews - What do customers think about Halakhic Man?

A Less Complex Discussion of a More Complex Topic.....  May 3, 2008
As other reviewers have stated, this is not a simple text. Nonetheless, for anyone who cares about understanding Judaism, it is an essential text--and I mean that in all of its implications. This book is especially a must-read for those who consider themselves serious-minded about being Jewish, and yet have decided (without really understanding a thing about the subject) that it is advisable to advocate a Judaism devoid of Halakhic thought and practice--devoid of the hundreds of rituals and obligatory prayers that the Torah asks us to perform on a daily basis. I am speaking of Rabbis, teachers, heads of congregations, etc.

In this book Soloveitchik painstakingly draws out three crucial distinctions in his effort to communicate the fundamental ingredient of that unique spirituality that is Judaism: 1. the distinction between Christian religiosity ("homo religiosis") and Jewish religiosity; 2. the distinction between between the Jewish ecstatic movements of 17th-19th centuries and Jewish religiosity; and 3. the distinction between an over-rationalized, de-spiritualized gutted Judaism ("cognitive man") and Jewish religiosity. (This latter, in particular, has been the perennial accusation flung at the Jews and their Rabbis from the Church for millenia.)

In making these distinctions clear, what "the Rov" weaves for his reader is a picture of the ideal Jew--a person in whom the cognitive parts are fully operative at all times, a person who thinks and considers continuously the riddles that the Torah has constructed by establishing its complex web of personal and communal commandments, yet whose cognition leads to a surrender and wonderment and awe. Far from the rote performance of myriad minutia of senseless rituals, the halakha Soloveitchik shares with us is what amounts to a meditative discipline, intentionally constructed by the Divine mind in order to accomplish several critical aspects of the creation.

On the one hand, entering the web of halakha enables the individual person to establish a deeper connection to the Divine, a connection that that person can experience palpably everytime s/he performs halakha in a halakhic manner. Secondly, every time an individual says a Blessing over food, over an activity, or performs any other halakhic ritual that involves part of the material universe, that person is helping to elevate that aspect of the material creation, to infuse it with Divine intentionality--thus helping to complete the creation. Thirdly, an individual who submits to the Law and performs halakha fulfills the covenant that was established between God and the Jews at Sinai--and this has numerous cosmic implications, for the Jews and for the world as a whole.

Many of these themes are covertly referenced by Soloveitchik.....and even for the aspects of the text that are more overt, I recommend reading this book with a friend or in a study group, and I recommend reading it slowly. There is no McWisdom here. Only the real kind.

I think this book should definitely be a part of every synagogue library, Introduction to Judaism college course, and part of the seminary education of every Rabbinical student in every branch of Judaism in North America.
Utterly outstanding!  Nov 15, 2006
Get ready to be challenged to a strata of thinking rarely encountered. Rabbi Soloveitchik inspired me to live a better life, as well as to quit smoking. However, unless you are extremely well versed in metaphysics as well as wordly and religous philosophy get out your dictionary and keep it close by, you will need it. The frustration of having to look up and determine "what he means by that choice of word" is worth every effort.

It is difficult for me to express how deeply moved at times I was while finding myself lost in his thoughts. The man was a master among us. The book takes a determined effort to read and even though it is rather short by most standards, 137 pages, I found it to be very concise and effective, like a flash of lightening! I believe that this is the type of book that one would profoundly benefit from reading a second time since it is so grand in scope and substance.

It is no wonder to me that this man was so highly regarded by his peers and students. Rarely does a person have the opportunity to encounter such a brilliant mind. The book is a treasure house of uplifting intellectual concepts on how we can better serve God's purpose and actualize ourselves in this world, right here and now.
The brilliance of R' Soloveitchik  May 18, 2005
This work, translated from the Hebrew, "Ish Ha-Halakha" is a masterpiece. It draws from many different wellsprings of knowledge, including everything from the Torah and scriptures to the Talmud. It is presented beautifully; each word is specifically and carefully chosen. For some, this book may be difficult to read, as the prose waxes philisophical and very descriptive, and oftentimes one needs to make connections within one's own mind.

The basic premise of this work, in its simplest form, is to discover and delineate the differences between "homo religiousus" and the "Halakhic man." Whereas homo religiousus, for instance, may be thrown about the tempestuous waves of emotion and transcendental religiousity, Halakhic man is one who discovers the meaning of religion through the laws, the balances, the critiques. Halakhic man seems more analytical, whereas homo religiosus is expressive and emotional. While both serve God, and serve Him properly, they serve Him in different ways. Halakhic man desires to bring God down to this world, the world considered, "Olam Hazeh," whereas homo religiousus desires to transcend the world, so that he may reach up to God in, "Olam Haba" or beyond, the next world.

However, this work also includes specific examples of man's guidelines/purpose/understanding. One of the most fascinating ideas is that of man as a Creator, also echoed, in some ways, in books like The Fountainhead. Even as God is the Creator, we humans emulate Him, and therefore, we, too, are creators. This is a very uplifting view of life and Judaism, for if one makes mistakes, we may self-create. Teshuva, repentance, is regarded as the idea of self-creation.

All in all, R' Soloveitchik expresses himself in ways that cling to the mind and make us thirst for more. This is a fascinating world. If you wish to enter, there is perhaps no better place to begin.
The central statement of a giant of Jewish thought   Nov 12, 2004
This is from the book- jacket."A profound excursion into religious psychology and phenomenology; a pioneering attempt at a philosophy of Halkhah ; a stringent critique of mysticism and romantic religion-allheld together by the force of the author's highly personal vision. Exuding intellectual sophistication and touching upon issues fundamental to religious life, Rabbi Soloveitchik's exploration, in sum, seeks to explain the inner world of the Talmudist-or as he is referred to typologically,halakhic man in terms drawn from Western culture"
This is as I understand it Rabbi Soloveitchik's defense of the ideal Jew, the Jewish way of life, the kind of Jewish life his family and he himself stood for for generations. I myself reading the work found it quite difficult to understand and its philosophical complexity often beyond me.
But it is the central statement of one of the greatest of all modern Jewish thinkers. And I believe all those interested in the deepest Jewish thought should know this work.
a warning  Apr 15, 2001
This book (basically a comparison of mainstream Talmudic scholarship and mysticism, and an endorsement of the former) struck me as the kind of book I might get more out of in a few years, when I know a lot more and have read a lot more -- and maybe when I am a grownup I will reread it. But it is not a book for people just beginning to learn about Judaism (unless they happen to have a Ph.D in philosophy). The allusions (to other thinkers), the concepts, and even the vocabulary were often over my head and are probably over the head of most people who do not have an enormous background in philosophical matters. I learned something from it, but not as much as a more learned person would.

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