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Talmud, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Approaches

(8,902 words)

Author(s): Solomon, Norman
The interpretation of Halakhah occupies a central place in Rabbinic Judaism, and over the centuries several methods of interpretation have evolved and been formalized, ranging within the tradition of Judaism from Midrash Halakhah to pilpul—a term used to describe various kinds of casuistry or dialectic. But, towards the end of the nineteenth century in the yeshivot of Lithuania and Belorus, particularly Volozhin, the way people studied the legal sections of the Talmud underwent a radical transfo…

Natural Science, Judaism and

(11,770 words)

Author(s): Solomon, Norman
The familiarity of names such as Freud, Einstein, and Feynman suggests that, since the latter half of the nineteenth century, Jews have been at the forefront of scientific advancement. Almost one hundred Jews have been awarded Nobel prizes in chemistry, physics, and medicine. This is 20% of these prizes, far out of proportion to the number of Jews in the world's population. Nobel prizes, however, mark only individual success, leaving us to inquire whether the extraordinary achievements of some J…