Soloveitchik

Chayei Sarah: Growing Old, Staying Young

"And Sarah lived one hundred years, twenty years and seven years; these are the years of Sarah's life” (Breisheet 23:1).

A famous rabbinic comment elucidating the triple expression of years teaches that Sarah maintained her stunning beauty, intuitive wisdom and sinless innocence throughout her life. Furthermore, the seemingly superfluous ending of the verse “these are the years of Sarah’s life” teaches, in the words of Rashi, that her years "were all equally good".   

Ketubot 11: It's Great to Be a Jew

A legal system is much more than a collection of laws. It signifies the values a society holds dear. When one studies halacha, one is actually also studying philosophy. The Mishne Torah, the great legal code of the Rambam begins not with law, but with philosophy. Without the latter, the former runs the risk of turning into a lists of do’s and don’ts.

Rosh Hashanah 25: A Saving Kiss

G-d is known as kel mistater, a hidden G-d (Yishayahu 46:15). Being created in His image, man, too, should yearn for anonymity. As Rav Soloveitchik notes, we know almost nothing about the members of the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah, those most responsible for setting up Jewish life as we know it today. Under their direction, the Oral Law became the focal point of Torah.

Zachor: History Revisited

“Remember what Amalek did to you...do not forget.” Such memory is more than a biblical command, it is a historical reality. While the Torah may have been written 3,500 years ago, it is—almost by definition—a book of current events. Our Sages note that only 55 of the thousands of prophets who spoke the word of G-d had their words recorded for posterity, as only these 55 spoke words that are relevant for all time. While the names, dates and places may change, the fundamental issues—be they of a moral, communal or personal nature—never truly change.

Yom Ha'atzmaut: Redemption and Return

Rav Soloveitchik was asked why our generation was the one to merit witnessing the creation of the State of Israel. After all, there were so many generations much more pious than ours, so much more worthy than us. The Rav answered, simply, that our generation needed it. Previous generations were able to flourish in their Judaism even without the benefit of a state. But after the horrors of the Holocaust, Jewish life simply could not continue, physically or spiritually, without a homeland.

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