It bothers me when Bible blogdom becomes a monologue among like-minded Christians. There are too few Jews and too few atheists who take part in the conversation. If this keeps up, I think I’m going to start posting Jewish comments and atheist comments on self-absorbed blogs under an allonym.
In Praise of Superstition, now that’s a gutsy title. Here’s a reply. The Torah (Lev 20:27; Deut 18:9-15) and the Prophets (Isa 8:20-21) fight against superstition. What would Moses have to say if transported into the presence of the Baal Shem Tov? Perhaps he would be both perplexed and honored, as he was in the presence of Akiva (Chagigah 11b-12a, 13a).
Jeff Wild of Talmudic Questionings is back, and he’s posting on Michael Casey’s An Unexciting Life, a splendid book on Benedictine spirituality. Is it possible to combine an appreciation of orthodox Judaism with an appreciation for Benedictine spirituality? The answer is obvious. I pity Christians who are so deaf and so blind that they are unable to learn from an Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Franz Rosenzweig, or an Amy Jill Levine.
Speaking of Heschel, this is the 100th anniversary of his birthday. HT: Gil Student, who provides links. Gil Student’s blog deserves to be better known. The author founded a publishing house, Yashar, which specializes in "Orthodox Jewish books for the contemporary reader." As the New Jersey Jewish Standard says,
Yashar tends to be daring in its offerings. Take, for example, “Between the Lines of the Bible,” by Yitzchak Etshalom. It is a commentary on the Book of Genesis, but it dares to go where other “Orthodox” commentaries fear to tread — into the world of modern biblical scholarship. It is, in fact, an outgrowth of a small, but growing trend within Orthodox erudition to bring history, archeology, linguistics, and literary criticism to bear on the Torah text.
Yashar also publishes a number of books by Rabbi Natan (Nosson) Slifkin, a brilliant scholar whose works were banned by several prominent haredi rabbis in 2005. That is because Slifkin dares to suggest that modern science provides a more accurate picture of the universe and all that is in it than the Sages of blessed memory.
I really don’t like how the reporter, Shammai Engelmayer, describes Slifkin’s position. I bet you anything Slifkin would feel more comfortable with this formulation than that of the newspaper.
Simply put, Hirhurim Musings is an excellent blog. Its authors are prolific, the posts are fearless but not over the top, and the site is extremely well-indexed. For a taste of the kind of controversies Gil Student wades into, try this.
I hope I’ve proven my point that Christians who want to be orthodox and Jews who want to be orthodox face similar problems. It’s no accident either that Gil Student lists First Things among the periodicals he receives.
But let’s say you are tired of the repetitive debates the orthodox are mired in. Where then? Well, who writes better than Rachel Barenblat? Now she is seeking ordination as a rabbi. How cool is that? Truth be told, I also like her husband Ethan Zuckerman’s blog. I also like Iyov, Menachem Mendel by Michael Pitkowsky, and Believing is Knowing by David Guttmann.