The Last Rabbi

The Last Rabbi : Joseph Soloveitchik and Talmudic Tradition

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Joseph Soloveitchik (1903-1993) was a major American Orthodox rabbi, Talmudist, philosopher, and theologian. In this new work, William Kolbrener takes on Soloveitchik's controversial legacy and shows how he was torn between the traditionalist demands of his European ancestors and the trajectory of his own radical and often pluralist philosophy. A portrait of this self-professed "lonely man of faith" reveals him to be a reluctant modern who responds to the catastrophic trauma of personal and historical loss by underwriting an idiosyncratic, highly conservative conception of law that is distinct from his Talmudic predecessors, and also paves the way for a return to tradition that hinges on the ethical embrace of multiplicity. As Kolbrener melds these contradictions, he presents Soloveitchik as a good deal more complicated and conflicted than others have suggested. The Last Rabbi affords new perspective on the thought of this major Jewish philosopher and his ideas on the nature of religious authority, knowledge, and more

Product details

  • Hardback | 246 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 22.86mm | 485g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 025302224X
  • 9780253022240
  • 574,130

Review quote

The Last Rabbi provides a refreshingly new and different understanding of this enigmatic figure...Although much of Kolbrener's foray into Soloveitchik's psyche is speculative, it does provide an innovative and fascinating new perspective on one of the most important, yet elusive, Jewish thinkers of the past century. For those interested in Jewish though, this is certainly a thought-provoking read. * Times Higher Education * Kolbrenner masterfully weaves a portrait of a very brilliant and complex individual who both successfully and unsuccessfully straddled the lines between the Yeshiva World and the world of Philosophy. * Jewish History Channel * The author, William Kolbrenner, a professor of English at Bar Ilan University, weaves his interests in Jewish thought and literature into his powerful examination, providing readers with a 'thought biography' that challenges us to consider Rabbi Soloveitchik as the 'reluctant modern.' * Jewish Book Council * Recommended. * Choice * This revolutionary work offers a powerful lens through which to read the writings of the pioneering 20th-Century talmudist and Jewish philosopher, Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, the driving force behind American modern Orthodoxy...Kolbrener's work musters a dazzling panoply of Jewish and general sources to re-examine the life and works of the most influential American talmudist. The Last Rabbi is a challenging, yet rewarding, read and ironically raises the threshold for future studies of Soloveitchik to the extent that this work may itself be the "last". * Jewish Chronicle *show more

About William Kolbrener

William Kolbrener is Professor of English at Bar Ilan University in Israel. He is author of Open Minded Torah: Of Irony, Fundamentalism, and more

Table of contents

Abbreviations of WorksPreface Introduction: The Making of Joseph Soloveitchik and the Unmaking of Talmudic TraditionPart I: Talmudic Tradition: Mourning 1. Hermeneutics of Rabbinic Mourning 2. Pluralism, Rabbinic Poetry and Dispute Part II: Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik: Melancholy Interlude: Primal Scene in Pruzhna 3. Love, Repentance, Sublimation 4. Joseph Soloveitchik, A Melancholy Modern 5. Beyond the Law: Repentance and Gendered Memory 6. From Interpretive Conquest to Antithetic Ethics Conclusion: The Last Rabbi and Talmudic Irony Notes Indexshow more

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