Hallel from Heaven and Hallel from Hell: The Post-Holocaust Responses of Paul Celan, Aharon Appelfeld and Meshulam Rath

Hallel from Heaven and Hallel from Hell – “Just as the praise of the Holy One ascends to Him from Heaven, so it ascends from Hell.” – (Midrash) What do poet Paul Celan, novelist Aharon Appelfeld, and religious legalist Meshulam Rath share in common? Two things. First, they all emerged from Tchernowitz (today Chernivtsi, Ukraine), capital of […]

Batei le-Gani (“I Came to My Garden”): Two Discourses of Rabbi Schneersohn and Rabbi Hutner Compared

By Bezalel Naor In the year 5710/1950, in honor of the tenth of Shevat, the yahrzeit of his paternal grandmother Rebbetzin Rivkah, Rabbi Yosef Yitshak Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, composed and distributed a ma’amar (discourse) to be studied on that day. As Divine Providence would have it, the tenth of Shevat (which fell on a […]

Book Review: Maimonides Between Philosophy and Halakhah: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Lectures on the Guide of the Perplexed

BOOK REVIEW BY BEZALEL NAOR Maimonides Between Philosophy and Halakhah: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Lectures on the Guide of the Perplexed Edited with an Introduction by Lawrence J. Kaplan (KTAV/Urim: Jerusalem, 2016) 256 pp. US $28.95 In the late 1970s, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik entrusted Lawrence Kaplan with the formidable task of translating his classic […]

Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha’s Mystical Encounter with Akatriel in the Holy of Holies: A Lesson for the Generation of the Holocaust

Said Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha: One time I entered to offer incense in the inner sanctum, and I saw Akatriel, Yah, Adonai Tseva’ot sitting upon an exalted throne, and He said to me, “Ishmael, my son, bless me.” I said to Him: “May it be Your will that Your compassion conquer Your wrath; and Your […]

Book Review: Nefesh HaTzimtzum by Avinoam Fraenkel

Bridging the Kabbalistic Gap Nefesh HaTzimtzum by Avinoam Fraenkel Vol. 1: Rabbi Chaim Volozhin’s Nefesh HaChaim with Translation and Commentary Volume 2: Understanding Nefesh HaChaim through the Key Concept of Tzimtzum and Related Writings (Jerusalem: Urim, 2015) Reviewed by Bezalel Naor Recently there has been a spate of English translations of the classic of Mitnagdic […]

Four Liberating Strategies

Four Liberating Strategies By Bezalel Naor In the non-Jewish world, the second of the Five Books of Moses is referred to as “Exodus.” Scholars tell us that this name derived once upon a time from Jewish sages; the Hebrew “Yetsi’at Mitsrayim” was translated into Greek: Exodus. The medieval Spanish commentator Nahmanides does in fact refer […]