Review of a New Pile of Anecdotes About Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Ethan Isenberg directed Lonely Man of Faith, a documentary film on the life and legacy of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

He has written a thorough and analytical review of a new book about the Rav in the Yeshiva University student newspaper.

Yet Another Soloveitchik Book? Review of Mentor of Generations: Reflections on Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (Hardcover), by Zev Eleff (Editor), 349 pages, KTAV Publishing House.

He concludes the informative review with the following summary:
Interspersed with the largely anecdotal material in this book are several analysis pieces worthy of reading. Both Michael Chernick and Hershel Reichman each provide an interesting analysis of the RIETS shiur. Lawrence Kaplan, the translator of Halakhic Man, provides some extended comments provided by the Rav during the course of the translation, that were not incorporated into the published version. Shlomo Pick gives a quick tour of the Rav’s insights on the various holidays, which is rounded out by Itzhak Goldberg on the Rav’s minhagim and specific nusach for the High Holiday prayers, and J. J. Schacter’s addendum to the recently published book he edited on Tisha B’Av themes and the kinot. In one of the only analyses of the Rav’s thought to appear in the book, Eugene Borowitz, the famous theologian from HUC, attempts to explain why Ish Ha-Halakhah and U’vikashtem Mi-Sham are so different, by theorizing the different purpose behind each of the works. I take issue with his explanation because it doesn’t really fit with the chronology of the writing of the works, but his arguments are definitely worthy of consideration.

Ultimately, while Mentor of Generations does tread over some well-trodden ground, there is much in the book to make it worth a read. Some of the anecdotes provide insight into under-explored territory, others add new perspective to that which has been previously noted. Still others merely add more voices to established conclusions. Either way, there should be something for everyone in this welcome addition to the Soloveitchik legacy.

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