The Jewish Eye
Festival of Freedom
Festival of Freedom
Essays on Pesah And the Haggadah
By Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
KTAV Publishing House: 2006
Festival of Freedom, the sixth volume in the series MeOtzar HoRav, consists of ten essays on Passover and the Haggadah drawn from the treasure trove left by the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, widely known as “the Rav.” For Rabbi Soloveitchik, the Passover Seder is not simply a formal ritual or ceremonial catechism. Rather, the Seder night is “endowed with a unique and fascinating quality, exalted in its holiness and shining with a dazzling beauty.” It possesses profound experiential and intellectual dimensions, both of them woven into the fabric of halakhic performance. Its central mitzvah, recounting the exodus, is extraordinarily multifaceted, entailing study and teaching, storytelling and symbolic performance, thanksgiving and praise.
In these essays, the Rav explains how the resonances of the Seder extend far beyond the confines of one night. As he sets forth, the Seder teaches us about the Jewish approach to the meal, Torah study, peoplehood, and the nature of freedom. Yetzi’at Mitzrayim is not just the story of an event lying in the distant past. It is the doctrine of the Jewish people, the philosophy of our history.
In exploring the various themes in this volume, the Rav explicates in new and creative ways nuances in the biblical and rabbinic texts associated with Passover. He presents a philosophical analysis of the nature of Jewish community and its religious experiences. In the process, he opens vistas not just on the Jewish people's past, but on its present and future.
The editors of Festival of Freedom are Joel B. Wolowelsky, Dean of the Faculty at the Yeshivah of Flatbush and Associate Editor of the MeOtzar HoRav series; and Reuven Ziegler, Editor-in-Chief of the Virtual Beit Midrash at Yeshivat Har Etzion and Director of Research at the Toras HoRav Foundation.
Rabbi Soloveitchik (1903-1993) was not only one of the outstanding talmudists of the twentieth century, but also one of its most creative and seminal Jewish thinkers. Drawing from a vast reservoir of Jewish and general knowledge, "the Rav," as he is widely known, brought Jewish thought and law to bear on the interpretation and assessment of the modern experience. For over four decades, Rabbi Soloveitchik commuted weekly from his home in Brookline, Massachusetts to New York City, where he gave the senior shi'ur (class in Talmud) at Yeshiva University's affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), where he taught and inspired generations of students, among them many of the future leaders of the Orthodox and broader Jewish community. By his extensive personal teaching and influence, he contributed vitally to the dynamic resurgence of Orthodox Judaism in America.
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