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Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein
This book is a collection of essays written by Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l and is for audiences thirsting for Torah and knowledge. In these essays, Rabbi Lichtenstein situates himself at the intersection between tradition and modernity, investigating the questions that naturally arise from the encounter between Jewish identity and heritage with the surrounding culture. Some of these questions arouse existential angst, and the person who struggles with them seeks insights that relate to the very core of their beliefs. Other questions demand the development of a conceptual position, or a carefully considered social policy. In any case, a response is called for. For Jews who are conscious of the challenges and contradictions that affect and shape them, ignoring these issues and maintaining an outdated set of assumptions is simply not an option.Rabbi Lichtenstein first offers a description of these challenges and their underlying conceptual foundations, based on his comprehensive knowledge and his precise analytical abilities. Next, Rabbi Lichtenstein grapples with the challenges head-on, and offers a path forward. His approach is honest, and therefore, it is complex and devoid of shortcuts. He is not enticed by the convenience of an ideological monism that denies the merits of one’s opponent’s position, nor is there any chance that the common yearning for “normalcy” will dull his piercing gaze. Rabbi Lichtenstein is firmly planted in the breadth and depth of the world of halacha, but from there his vision expands and reaches distant horizons.The reader’s experience will change from essay to essay and from person to person. To the extent that, as mentioned above, this work provides a response and presents a path, it will offer a feeling of tranquility and clarity. But the complexity of Rabbi Lichtenstein’s treatment can also cause discomfort and frustration. At times, the pleasure and benefit to be gained from Rabbi Lichtenstein’s writing depend on the willingness to transcend one’s familiar patterns of thinking. The reward is the chance for a life that is more true, both from the Jewish and the human perspective.
Edited by Elyakim Krumbein and Reuven Ziegler