The Jewish Eye
The Lonely Man of Faith
The Lonely Man of Faith
By Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Three Leaves: 2006
Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the rabbi known as “The Rav” by his followers worldwide, was a leading authority on the meaning of Jewish law and prominent force in building bridges between traditional Orthodox Judaism and the modern world. In The Lonely Man of Faith, a soaring, eloquent essay first published in Tradition magazine in 1965, Soloveitchik investigates the essential loneliness of the person of faith in our narcissistic, materially oriented, utilitarian society.
In this modern classic, Soloveitchik uses the story of Adam and Eve as a springboard, interweaving insights from such important Western philosophers as Kierkegaard and Kant with innovative readings of Genesis to provide guidance for the faithful in today’s world. He explains prayer as “the harbinger of moral reformation,” and discusses with empathy and understanding the despair and exasperation of individuals who seek personal redemption through direct knowledge of a God who seems remote and unapproachable. He shows that while the faithful may become members of a religious community, their true home is “the abode of loneliness.” In a moving personal testimony, Soloveitchik demonstrates a deep-seated commitment, intellectual courage, and integrity to which people of all religions will respond.
About the Author
Joseph B. Soloveitchik was born in Russia in 1903 into a family of eminent Eastern European rabbis. Initially trained in the scholarship of the sacred texts of Judaism, at 22 he enrolled at the University of Berlin in order to study physics, mathematics, and philosophy. He wrote his dissertation on the philosopher Hermann Cohen. In 1932, he accepted the position of chief rabbi of Boston, where he made his home for the rest of his life. In 1939 he founded the Maimonides School. For years, he commuted to New York City to teach at Yeshiva University, where his lectures gained renown for their probity and breadth. During his lifetime, he was regarded throughout the world as the leading authority on the meaning of Jewish law, and the leading intellectual figure in the effort to build bridges between Orthodox Judaism and the modern world. Rabbi Soloveitchik died in 1993.
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