Rav Soloveitchik on the High Holidays
The holy days of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur played a significant role in Rabbi Soloveitchik’s halakhic and philosophical writings. Join Rabbi Jeffrey Saks as he surveys some of these major themes in Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s thought and religious philosophy as seen through his essays.
Rav Soloveitchik on the High Holidays: Lesson 1
The Secret of the Shofar: In this short series we’ll look at R Soloveitchik’s teachings about the 3 upcoming holidays – Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. This time we’ll examine his halakhic writings with an eye to exploring the underlying philosophical principles behind his writings. For the first session we’ll explore the Talmudic passage (Rosh HaShana 26b) (http://www.hebrewbooks.org/shas.aspx?mesechta=9&daf=26b&format=pdf) re the shape of the shofar and what it means for the mitzva and our “attitude” in prayer and in approaching God.
Attached is a (Hebrew) essay on the topic from the Rav’s collection on the High Holy Days, Yemei Zikaron (http://www.kodeshbook.co.il/product.asp?productid=4092). For those interested in an intro to the Rav’s life and thought, please listen to this archived lecture.(http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/761264/Rabbi_Jeffrey_Saks/Lonely_Man_of_Faith_(Part_1_of_16))
Rav Soloveitchik on the High Holidays: Lesson 2
Creative Teshuva:Teshuva offers a road back to God and to our authentic selves – but there are different paths to get there, and different “opportunities” offered by sin (or at least opportunities to learn, change and grow from our mistakes). We will explore a well known teaching of Rav Soloveitchik to Yoma 86b.
Rav Soloveitchik on the High Holidays: Lesson 3
Hiddur Mitzva-For our final session in this series we’ll explore that Rav’s teachings on the topic of Hiddur Mitzva (the imperative to “beautify” mitzva objects), a central topic whose “home address” is Lulav and Etrog. The attached Hebrew essay is the halakhic analysis from which we will aim to distinguish the underlying philosophical underpinnings. [The essay is mistakenly titled “Mitzva HaBa’ah BeAveira” – it is in fact about Hiddur Mitzva.]
(In another course we will study the Rav’s essay “Kodesh and Chol – Sacred and Profane”, an important and often overlooked essay based upon a talk delivered in 1945. A scan is attached for those who want to read ahead.)
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding director of ATID – The Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, in Jerusalem, and its WebYeshiva.org program. He is the Editor of the journal Tradition, Series Editor of The S.Y. Agnon Library at The Toby Press, and Director of Research at the Agnon House in Jerusalem. A three-time graduate of Yeshiva University (BA, MA, Semicha), Rabbi Saks has published widely on Jewish thought, education, and literature (see www.webyeshiva.org/rabbisaks).