First Fruits (Bikkurim) and the Talmudic View of Capital: An Essay in the Philosophy of Halakhah

The Torah commanded that the first fruits (bikkurim) be placed in a basket and brought to the site of the future Temple. There, the basket is presented to the kohen or priest and the owner recites a lengthy narrative (mikra bikkurim) which recounts the collective history of the People of Israel. The narrative commences with the tribulations […]

Messiah’s Donkey of a Thousand Colors

Messiah’s Donkey of a Thousand Colors To the State of Israel on Its Seventieth Birthday In Perek Helek, the final chapter of Tractate Sanhedrin (98a), famous for its discussions of eschatological issues, we find a focus on the speed of Messiah’s arrival (or lack thereof). Rabbi Joshua ben Levi juggles two sets of seemingly opposite prophecies. In the […]

The Universalism of Rav Kook

The Universalism of Rav Kook by Bezalel Naor Stereotypes are difficult to overcome. Until recently, the stereotype of Rav Avraham Yitzhak Hakohen Kook (1865-1935) was of a nationalist (perhaps even ultranationalist) who lent his rabbinic aegis to the Zionist enterprise in the first third of the twentieth century. In his seminal work Orot [Lights] (Jerusalem, […]

The Hasidism of Rav Kook

We usually associate the term “Neo-Hasidism” with thinkers such as Martin Buber, Hillel Zeitlin and Abraham Joshua Heschel. It may come to many of us as a surprise that Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook also proposed a new Hasidism, but it should not.[1] During Rav Kook’s lifetime, there were those who perceived him as the founder […]

Avodat Halevi, Rabbi Aharon Halevi Horowitz of Staroshelye

“BE-ZOT YAVO AHARON EL HA-KODESH” “WITH THIS SHALL AARON ENTER INTO THE HOLY PLACE” (LEVITICUS 16:3) A DISCOURSE OF THE STAROSHELYER REBBE Rabbi Aharon Halevi Horowitz of Staroshelye (1766-1828), was the eminent disciple of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Habad Hasidism. Rabbi Aharon studied under the master for thirty years. The Alter Rebbe […]