Halakhic Man

Halakhic Man

Halakhic Man

Halakhic Man

Excerpt

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's essay Ish ha-halakhah--Halakhic Man--is a unique, almost unclassifiable work. Its pages include a brilliant exposition of Mitnaggedism, of Lithuanian religiosity with its emphasis on Talmudism; a profound excursion into religious psychology and phenomenology; a pioneering attempt at a philosophy of Halakhah; a stringent critique of mysticism and romantic religion in general; as well as anecdotal family history--all held together by the force of the author's highly personal vision.

Perhaps the best description of Halakhic Man is that of Eugene Borowitz, who termed it a "Mitnagged phenomenology of awesome proportions." Existentialist motifs are also not lacking. Then again, the work, with its sprinkling of latenineteenth and early-twentieth-century liberal, apologetic motifs, may, in part, be seen as a halakhic, neo-Kantian cum existential version of Leo Baeck's great essay, "Romantic Religion." Indeed, there is more than a little resemblance between Baeck's images of classical and romantic religion and R. Soloveitchik's portraits of halakhic man and homo religiosus. Nor should the clearly anti-Christian thrust of both essays be overlooked.

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