Joseph B. Soloveitchik

American rabbi and theologian

Joseph Ber (Yosef Dov, Yoshe Ber) Soloveitchik (February 27, 1903April 9, 1993) was an American Orthodox rabbi, Talmudist and modern Jewish philosopher. He was a descendant of the Lithuanian Jewish Soloveitchik rabbinic dynasty.

Quotes edit

  • Man of old who could not fight disease and succumbed in multitudes to yellow fever or any other plague could not lay claim to dignity. Only the man who builds hospitals, discovers therapeutic techniques, and saves lives is blessed with dignity.
  • There is a distinct reluctance, almost an unwillingness, on the part of Torah to grant man the privilege to consume meat. Man as an animal-eater is looked at askance by the Torah. There are definitive vegetarian tendencies in the Bible.
  • On the night of the exodus, the people met God, had a rendezvous with Him, and made His acquaintance for the first time. On Yom Kippur night, man gets very close to his Father in heaven, again meets Him, talks to Him, cries before and implores Him. The grandeur and singularity of these two nights lie in the God-man confrontation.
    • Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Festival of Freedom: Essays on Pesah and the Haggadah, p. 3 (2006)

Halakhic Man (1983) edit

Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man (1983)

  • Halakhic man, well furnished with rules, judgments, and fundamental principles, draws near the world with an a priori relation. His approach begins with an ideal creation and concludes with a real one. To whom may he be compared? To a mathematician who fashions an ideal world and then uses it for the purpose of establishing a relationship between it and the real world. ... The essence of the Halakhah, which was received from God, consists in creating an ideal world and cognizing the relationship between that ideal world and our concrete environment.
    • p. 19
  • The physicist ... engages in complex and difficult calculations, involving the manipulating of ideal, mathematical quantities that, at first glance, are wholly lacking in the music of the living world and the beauty of the resplendent cosmos. It would seem as if there exists no relationship between these quantities and reality. Yet these ideal numbers that cannot be grasped by one's senses, these numbers that only are meaningful from within the system itself, only meaningful as part of abstract mathematical functions, symbolize the image of existence.
    • p. 83
  • As a result of scientific man's creativity there arises an ordered, illumined, determined world, imprinted with the stamp of creative intellect, of pure reason and clear cognition. From the midst of the order and lawfulness we hear a new song, the song of the creature to the Creator, the song of the cosmos to its Maker.
    • pp. 83-84
  • Not only the qualitative world bursts forth in song, but so does the quantitative.
    • p. 84
  • Perhaps these experiences of cognitive man are lacking in the emotional dynamic and turbulent passion of aesthetic man; perhaps these experiences are devoid of flashy and externally impressive bursts of ecstasy or stychic enthusiasm. However, they are possessed of a profound depth and a clear penetrating vision. They do not flourish and then wither away like experiences that are only based on a vague, obscure moment of psychic upheaval.
    • p. 84
  • As long as man has not ascended to the rank of existence where he leaves behind him the domain of the universal and enters into his own personal domain—no longer dependent upon the principles operative in the realm of the universal—he is still subject to the rule of the species and the universal form. However, as soon as he liberates himself from the burden of the species, he becomes a free man. Complete freedom belongs only to the prophet, the man of God. The man who is a mere random example of the species, on the other hand, is wholly under the rule of the scientific lawfulness of existence. Between this species man and the man of God, between necessity and freedom, is the middle range in which most people find themselves.
    • p. 135

The Halakhic Mind, 1986 edit

Joseph B. Soloveitchik, The Halakhic Mind, 1986

  • Great philosophical systems are never produced in a scientific vacuum but usually follow the formation and completion of a scientific world-perspective.
    • p. 5
  • Newtonian physics found its apostle in Kant; modern physics is still awaiting its modern expounder.
    • p. 12

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