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Halakhic Man Paperback – December 1, 1984


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: The Jewish Publication Society (December 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827603975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827603974
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The best single introduction to Jewish religious thought in print."—Theology Today
(Theology Today)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Crystal Edwardson on May 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This work, translated from the Hebrew, "Ish Ha-Halakha" is a masterpiece. It draws from many different wellsprings of knowledge, including everything from the Torah and scriptures to the Talmud. It is presented beautifully; each word is specifically and carefully chosen. For some, this book may be difficult to read, as the prose waxes philisophical and very descriptive, and oftentimes one needs to make connections within one's own mind.

The basic premise of this work, in its simplest form, is to discover and delineate the differences between "homo religiousus" and the "Halakhic man." Whereas homo religiousus, for instance, may be thrown about the tempestuous waves of emotion and transcendental religiousity, Halakhic man is one who discovers the meaning of religion through the laws, the balances, the critiques. Halakhic man seems more analytical, whereas homo religiosus is expressive and emotional. While both serve God, and serve Him properly, they serve Him in different ways. Halakhic man desires to bring God down to this world, the world considered, "Olam Hazeh," whereas homo religiousus desires to transcend the world, so that he may reach up to God in, "Olam Haba" or beyond, the next world.

However, this work also includes specific examples of man's guidelines/purpose/understanding. One of the most fascinating ideas is that of man as a Creator, also echoed, in some ways, in books like The Fountainhead. Even as God is the Creator, we humans emulate Him, and therefore, we, too, are creators. This is a very uplifting view of life and Judaism, for if one makes mistakes, we may self-create. Teshuva, repentance, is regarded as the idea of self-creation.

All in all, R' Soloveitchik expresses himself in ways that cling to the mind and make us thirst for more. This is a fascinating world. If you wish to enter, there is perhaps no better place to begin.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is from the book- jacket."A profound excursion into religious psychology and phenomenology; a pioneering attempt at a philosophy of Halkhah ; a stringent critique of mysticism and romantic religion-allheld together by the force of the author's highly personal vision. Exuding intellectual sophistication and touching upon issues fundamental to religious life, Rabbi Soloveitchik's exploration, in sum, seeks to explain the inner world of the Talmudist-or as he is referred to typologically,halakhic man in terms drawn from Western culture"

This is as I understand it Rabbi Soloveitchik's defense of the ideal Jew, the Jewish way of life, the kind of Jewish life his family and he himself stood for for generations. I myself reading the work found it quite difficult to understand and its philosophical complexity often beyond me.

But it is the central statement of one of the greatest of all modern Jewish thinkers. And I believe all those interested in the deepest Jewish thought should know this work.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the most ambitious works of Jewish theology written in the past few hundred years. It is in many ways a rewrite of "Nefesh HaChayim" which has never been translated into English. The Halakhic Man is a complete coherent vision of Judaism and the world.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on April 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book (basically a comparison of mainstream Talmudic scholarship and mysticism, and an endorsement of the former) struck me as the kind of book I might get more out of in a few years, when I know a lot more and have read a lot more -- and maybe when I am a grownup I will reread it. But it is not a book for people just beginning to learn about Judaism (unless they happen to have a Ph.D in philosophy). The allusions (to other thinkers), the concepts, and even the vocabulary were often over my head and are probably over the head of most people who do not have an enormous background in philosophical matters. I learned something from it, but not as much as a more learned person would.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lyone Fein on May 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
As other reviewers have stated, this is not a simple text. Nonetheless, for anyone who cares about understanding Judaism, it is an essential text--and I mean that in all of its implications. This book is especially a must-read for those who consider themselves serious-minded about being Jewish, and yet have decided (without really understanding a thing about the subject) that it is advisable to advocate a Judaism devoid of Halakhic thought and practice--devoid of the hundreds of rituals and obligatory prayers that the Torah asks us to perform on a daily basis. I am speaking of Rabbis, teachers, heads of congregations, etc.

In this book Soloveitchik painstakingly draws out three crucial distinctions in his effort to communicate the fundamental ingredient of that unique spirituality that is Judaism: 1. the distinction between Christian religiosity ("homo religiosis") and Jewish religiosity; 2. the distinction between between the Jewish ecstatic movements of 17th-19th centuries and Jewish religiosity; and 3. the distinction between an over-rationalized, de-spiritualized gutted Judaism ("cognitive man") and Jewish religiosity. (This latter, in particular, has been the perennial accusation flung at the Jews and their Rabbis from the Church for millenia.)

In making these distinctions clear, what "the Rov" weaves for his reader is a picture of the ideal Jew--a person in whom the cognitive parts are fully operative at all times, a person who thinks and considers continuously the riddles that the Torah has constructed by establishing its complex web of personal and communal commandments, yet whose cognition leads to a surrender and wonderment and awe.
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