Collected Essays

Volume III

Haym Soloveitchik

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ISBN: 9781904113997

Publication: September 30, 2019

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

Two main areas of medieval Jewish thought are explored in this collection of previously published and new essays. A section on Sefer asidim brings together over half a century of Soloveitchik’s writings on German Pietism, many of which were published in out-of-the-way places, and adds two new essays. The first is a methodological study on how to read Sefer asidim, a baffling potpourri of pietistic sayings, religious practices, and stories, and on what constitutes (and does not constitute) a valid historical inference. The second new essay, ‘Sefer asidim and the Social Sciences’, is a guide to the soundness of a number of sociological and anthropological inferences that have been drawn from that work in contemporary historiography.

A section on R. Avraham ben David of Posquières updates Soloveitchik’s ‘Ravad of Posquières: A Programmatic Essay’, a highly influential essay which argued that, throughout the Middle Ages, Ravad was known and his influence determined by his role as talmudic commentator, not by his now-famous critiques of Mishneh Torah, which were largely unknown in that period. He has added a new essay on the acrimonious relationship between Ravad and R. Zerahyah ha-Levi of Lunel and the tensions that existed between the stormy, low-born genius of Posquières and the Jewish aristocracy of Languedoc, particularly of Lunel.

Haym Soloveitchik is the Merkin Family Research Professor at Yeshiva University, New York, and the former director of the School of Jewish Studies at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has also taught at the Sorbonne and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He has published books in Hebrew on pawnbroking and usury, Jewish involvement in the medieval wine trade, and the use of responsa as a historical source.

Specific Studies
1. Three Themes in Sefer Ḥasidim
2. On Dating Sefer Ḥasidim
3. Piety, Pietism, and German Pietism: Sefer Ḥasidim I and the Influence of asidei Ashkenaz
4. Pietists and Kibbitzers
5. The Midrash, Sefer Ḥasidim, and the Changing Face of God
6. Two Notes on the Commentary on the Torah of R. Yehudah he-Ḥasid
7. Topics in the okhmat ha-Nefesh

Methodological Issues
8. On Reading Sefer Ḥasidim
9. Sefer asidim and the Social Sciences

10. Rabad of Posquières: A Programmatic Essay
11. The Literary Remains of the Gedol ha-Mefarshim: A Study in Personal Rivalry and the Repulsion of Opposites
12. A Response to R. Buckwold’s Critique of ‘Rabad of Posquières’, Part I
13. A Response to R. Buckwold’s Critique of ‘Rabad of Posquières’, Part II
14. Jewish and Roman Law: A Study in Interaction
15. The Riddle of Me’iri’s Recent Popularity
16. Printing and the History of Halakhah
17. Angle of Deflection

Bibliography of Manuscripts
Source Acknowledgements
Index of Names
Index of Places
Index of Subjects

(review of Volume II)
‘Reading Soloveitchik is always a delight as his careful writing, perceptive insights, and vast scholarship and erudition can be found on every page.'
David Tesler, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews  


(review of Volume II)
‘A very important work, especially since nine of the essays have never before appeared in print . . . There is so much learning in this book, and it is written in such an engaging style, that anyone with an appreciation for the history of halakhah will be spellbound.'

Marc B. Shapiro, Seforim blog

(review of Volume I)
‘In our generation the premier practitioner of history of, and through, halacha is Haym Soloveitchik . . . in addition to his many other merits, [he] is an elegant stylist . . . Part of the pleasure of reading him is that there is more learning and illumination to be found in his remarks dropped along the way than in the pages of a lesser scholar . . . profound, poignant essays.’
David Wolpe, Tablet Magazine


Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

464 Pages

ISBN: 9781904113997

Publication: September 30, 2019

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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