Introduction to David Weiss Halivni's "Prayer in the Shoah".
YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT testimonies on record of the theological consequences of the Shoah. It is a wrenching, troubling and yet tragically affirmative account of what it means to have prayed in the camps and to pray again today. The context for this testimony is noteworthy in itself. As Professor Halivni explains in the beginning of his essay, Yad Vashem Yad Vashem (יד ושם) — ("Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority") — is Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust established in 1953 through the Memorial Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament. had asked him to write the piece to introduce their publication of the High Holiday Machzor mach·zor
Variant of mahzor. used in the Wolfsberg concentration camp (and that had been transcribed for that purpose by the Satmar Cantor Naphtali Stern, z'l). Halivni notes that he had been "looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. quite a while for an opportunity to write about the mispairing of sin and Holocaust. This may be the occasion, I thought, so I accepted the invitation, even though I did not know at that time what the biblical and rabbinic rab·bin·i·cal also rab·bin·ic
Of, relating to, or characteristic of rabbis.
[From obsolete rabbin, rabbi, from French, from Old French rabain, probably from Aramaic sources would show."  Several months after Halivni completed the essay, just before Rosh Hashanah Rosh Hashanah
Jewish New Year. Sometimes called the Day of Judgment, Rosh Hashanah falls on Tishri 1 (in September or October) and ushers in a 10-day period of self-examination and penitence that ends with Yom Kippur. 2000, Rabbi Obadiah Yosef, the spiritual leader of SHAS SHAS SVM (Service Module) Harness Subsystem
SHAS Supplement to HIV/AIDS Surveillance
SHAS Shomrei Torah Sephardim-Sephardi Torah Guardians (Israeli political party) , spoke about the Shoah on his regular Saturday night sermon, broadcast over Israel Radio. As Halivni recalls, "Rabbi Yosef spoke of the connection between sin and suffering and declared that the Holocaust was the result of sin and that the many religious people who were killed in the Holocaust had been sinners in a previous life (gilgul). "The radio show elicited powerful reactions in the Israeli media The following is a list of Israeli media. Print media
As a means of introducing Halivni's essay, I will offer observations about its religious context and literary setting and suggestions about its theological significance. First, for those less familiar with Halivni's work, I begin with a biographical note.
Halivni's Life and Work
Lucius Littauer Professor of Classical Jewish Civilization at Columbia University Columbia University, mainly in New York City; founded 1754 as King's College by grant of King George II; first college in New York City, fifth oldest in the United States; one of the eight Ivy League institutions. and former head of the Talmud Department of the Jewish Theological Seminary seminary
Educational institution, usually for training in theology. In the U.S. the term was formerly also used to refer to institutions of higher learning for women, often teachers' colleges. , David Weiss Halivni Rabbi David Weiss Halivni (b. 1927) is a scholar of Talmud and a Holocaust survivor, originally of Sighet, Romania. Personal history
Professor Halivni's name was formerly "David Weiss"; however, after World War II, he wanted to change his name, because "Weiss" had been is recognized as one of the post-war generation's greatest Talmudic scholars.  Until the past decade, when he began to write his theological and methodological studies in English, he was widely known only among Hebrew readers of his ongoing magnum opus, Mekorot uMesorot ("Sources and Traditions") --a technical, wondrous play of hypothetical reconstructions of the Talmud text's history of redaction See redact. .  His recent writings in English have explained how it is possible for one to apply the scientific tools of textual and historical analysis to the Talmudic literature Noun 1. Talmudic literature - (Judaism) ancient rabbinical writings
Judaism - the monotheistic religion of the Jews having its spiritual and ethical principles embodied chiefly in the Torah and in the Talmud , while, at the same time, respecting the sanctity of that literature as the source of traditional religious practice. 
The center of Halivni's overall work concerns the bond between academic rabbinic scholarship and rabbinic practice: a link that he fears is often missing today in both the academy (lest "religious interests" lead scholars to lose "scientific or critical objectivity") and the traditional or yeshivah worlds (lest "scientific interests" lead pious Jews to lose the "purity of Torah"). He observes that academic scholarship that is not connected to rabbinic practice tends to lose contact with the overall purposes of Jewish textual study, as well as with the guidelines for responding to textual questions for which there are no clear-cut, "scientific" answers. He adds, on the other hand, that when yeshivah learning avoids using the tools of critical scholarship, it fails to imitate the talmud torah Talmud Torah
Religious study of the Torah in search of the God who makes himself known in that work. It focuses on learning God's message for contemporary times through inquiry into the books of Hebrew scripture or those that record the original oral Torah of Sinai, the of the Mishnaic and Talmudic sages, who made use of the powerful interpretive in·ter·pre·tive also in·ter·pre·ta·tive
Relating to or marked by interpretation; explanatory.
in·terpre·tive·ly adv. tools of their age to help them discern the subtler meanings of the Torah texts. In this context, one could say that the overall goal of Halivni 's work has been tikkun torah as his way of "mending the broken bond" that links Torah study Torah study is the study by Jewish people of the Torah, Tanakh, Talmud, responsa, rabbinic literature and similar works, all of which are Judaism's religious texts, for the purpose of the mitzvah ("commandment") of Torah study itself, meaning study for religious (as opposed to and Torah life.
Consistent with this goal, he has devoted his energies to practical, communal work as well as to scholarship. He is co-founder and rector of a rabbinical rab·bin·i·cal also rab·bin·ic
Of, relating to, or characteristic of rabbis.
[From obsolete rabbin, rabbi, from French, from Old French rabain, probably from Aramaic seminary--the Institute of Traditional Judaism in Teaneck, New Jersey--and he has become Ray of a Shabbat minyan min·yan
n. pl. min·ya·nim or min·yans
The minimum number of ten adult Jews or, among the Orthodox, Jewish men required for a communal religious service. in the Upper Westside of Manhattan (with a growing congregation of observant ob·ser·vant
1. Quick to perceive or apprehend; alert: an observant traveler. See Synonyms at careful.
2. Jews, many of them students and young professionals). This practical side of Halivni's work is worth noting, because "Prayer in the Shoah" reflects theological judgments that cannot simply be deduced through some formal method of inquiry. His judgments are made by a whole person: grounded, to be sure, in a life of text study, but offered just as intently for the sake of upholding living communities of Jews. To form such judgments, moreover, he has had to reflect on a lifetime of experiences, including those that bring memories of unimaginable suffering.
Halivni spent his childhood in the Jewish community of Sighet, in the Carpathian Mountains Carpathian Mountains
Mountain system, eastern Europe. It extends along the Slovakia-Poland border and southward through Ukraine and eastern Romania about 900 mi (1,450 km). Its highest peak, Gerlachovka (in Slovakia), rises 8,711 ft (2,655 m). . He was famous for his Talmudic erudition er·u·di·tion
Deep, extensive learning. See Synonyms at knowledge.
Erudition of editors—Hare.
Noun 1. even as a child, and even before his rabbinic ordination at the age of fifteen. But Hungarian Jewry had already begun to suffer the effects of Nazism several years before this, and, later that year, in 1944, he was deported, first to a ghetto, then to Auschwitz, later to the forced labor camp Noun 1. labor camp - a penal institution for political prisoners who are used as forced labor
camp - a penal institution (often for forced labor); "China has many camps for political prisoners" of Wolfsberg, in Gross-Rosen, then to the death camp of Ebensee. His family perished in Auschwitz, and he writes that, of his grandfather's 65 children and grandchildren GRANDCHILDREN, domestic relations. The children of one's children. Sometimes these may claim bequests given in a will to children, though in general they can make no such claim. 6 Co. 16. , only five survived the camps. Inside the camps, he continued to teach Mishnah from memory, but, as he recounts in his memoirs, the environment was no longer one in which he could open his mind to new levels of learning Torah. He recalls,
Even though I knew that the murderers were out there in the streets,... I shut them out, drew an imaginary wall and continued to do what I had done all those years, linking myself to the past and continuing to study the same material I had studied since the age of four....
That changed on the fateful fate·ful
1. Vitally affecting subsequent events; being of great consequence; momentous: a fateful decision to counterattack.
2. Controlled by or as if by fate; predetermined.
3. day of May 14, 1944.... We were told on that day that we had to leave our house ... and wait in the street for transport.... At that time ... I lost my home and my imaginary life stopped. I stopped learning... I had no desire or ability to study Torah amid people ready to kill us. I did not learn on the train and did not resume formal learning until months after liberation.... 
In their wildest imagination the people of the ghetto could not have imagined what ultimately happened ... that they would be gassed ... including young children. 
Halivni's memoirs, The Book and the Sword, A Life of Learning in the Shadow of Destruction, were composed and published more than fifty years after the horrible events that define them. The words and world of the Talmud had filled his imagination as a child. In his youth, they provided him a refuge ("an imaginary wall") from the horrible world around him. Through much of his adult life, they may have provided him a refuge, as well, from the memories of that world. But I am struck by two occasions on which this wall of imagination appears to have been breached. He describes the first occasion in his memoirs: "I lost my home and my imaginary life stopped." It seems most prudent to understand his experience physiologically: when physical survival itself was threatened, it was simply impossible to concentrate on book learning, even for the sake of refuge. Yet, his description of horrors that went beyond one's "wildest imagination," might also suggest something about the relation between Torah and imagination. If words of Torah can fill the entire imagination, can they also reach beyond the imagination? Or do events that shatter shat·ter
v. shat·tered, shat·ter·ing, shat·ters
1. To cause to break or burst suddenly into pieces, as with a violent blow.
a. the imagination itself also threaten the universe of one's Torah learning? Is this, in fact, another way of characterizing the theological challenge that Halivni faced in writing his memoirs? Would the memory of such events also challenge the universe of one's Torah learning (and pierce the "wall of his imagination" a second time)? If so, we may wonder if "Prayer in the Shoah" offers Halivni's response to this second challenge: a way, finally, to re-imagine, re-build, and renew the universe of Torah after the events of Shoah. 
The Setting of "Prayer in the Shoah"
"Prayer in the Shoah" is what we may call a "theological testimony." It is, for one, written by a survivor of the Shoah and, in that sense, belongs to the literature of witness. But it is also a theological inquiry, composed by someone who is both a profound scholar of Talmudic literature and a rabbinic leader. Halivni's personal witness to the Shoah therefore, in a sense, brings a dimension of traditional rabbinic Judaism rabbinic Judaism
Principal form of Judaism that developed after the fall of the Second Temple of Jerusalem (AD 70). It originated in the teachings of the Pharisees, who emphasized the need for critical interpretation of the Torah. into the horrors of the Shoah and then out again. In the process, his witness enables the reader to see what it might mean for rabbinic Judaism itself to endure the Shoah and then persist again as rabbinic Judaism. How does the heart and soul of Talmudic Judaism suffer such an event? How does it withstand the event and not disintegrate dis·in·te·grate
v. dis·in·te·grat·ed, dis·in·te·grat·ing, dis·in·te·grates
1. To become reduced to components, fragments, or particles.
2. in despair? How is it transformed through the event, so that what emerges into life after the Shoah is both traditional rabbinic Judaism and something else? And how does the transformation occur, in detail, to each aspect of rabbinic Judaism: its method of re ading Torah, its sense of the Covenant between God and Israel, its understanding of sin and punishment, and its visions of God's relations to creation and, even, of God's self-relation?
Responding to these questions through what I will label his "third-way" of writing, Halivni may frustrate the tendency of many modern Jews to separate personal (or communal) from academic forms of writing. In both Mekorot uMesorot and his more general English writings, Halivni is careful to frame most of his work strictly within the limits of academic scholarship as most scholars define it today. He also offers a second level of inquiry, however, through which he entertains questions for which there is insufficient scholarly evidence to offer demonstrable de·mon·stra·ble
1. Capable of being demonstrated or proved: demonstrable truths.
2. Obvious or apparent: demonstrable lies. answers. Even if these questions are not answered, he suggests, critical scholars may survive or even prosper in their professions. But some of these questions speak to matters of life-and-death for the religion of Israel -- for the spiritual, psycho-social, and corporate existence of Judaism after the Shoah. What, for example, is the status of the Covenant after the destructions of the Temple? Or after the Shoah?
Critical text scholars will surely acknowledge the importance of such questions to the practical lives of various rabbinic communities; and they may acknowledge the significant role of "myth-making" in strengthening communal life -- that is, the importance of "constructing narratives" that enable communities of Jews to give sense and order to their lives with one another. But most may assign responsibility for such "myth making" to "communal leaders" or to artists, writers, and composers. And this division of responsibilities will also bring with it the presumption that distinct spheres of training and knowledge and sensibility contribute to critical text study, on the one hand, and such practical literary output on the other. Leaders of traditional religious communities, on the other hand, will readily acknowledge the significance of such questions, but they may also claim that appropriate answers to them are already available in the "tradition." Such leaders may then re-affirm the critical scholars' sense o f a division of responsibility, but in reverse order: these questions are too important to be influenced by critical scholarship, and the responsibility for framing them must be left to appropriate religious authorities.
Halivni seeks both to acknowledge the separable sep·a·ra·ble
Possible to separate: separable sheets of paper.
sep spheres of critical and community-specific modes of study and, at the same time, to argue that both sides must give much more attention and care to the third mode of inquiry that falls in between them. For Halivni, what the critical scholar may label "myth making" is "made," to be sure, but not only by human hands. What the traditional religious leader says is "answered by tradition" is "inside" the tradition, to be sure, but cannot be brought to the light of day without human effort -- and it is an effort that belongs to this day. His third mode of inquiry draws, at once, on both rabbinic leadership and critical inquiry, both traditional Torah learning and scientific study.
There are several ways of drawing these two sides into a single inquiry. One of Halivni's central approaches is to undertake a religious historiography historiography
Writing of history, especially that based on the critical examination of sources and the synthesis of chosen particulars from those sources into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods. .  This is to encourage religiously committed academic scholars to conduct their customary, scientific studies of historical evidence, but then to contribute, as well, to their communities' wrestlings with the "big questions" that exceed the limits of clear evidence. The first rule of religious historiography is to eliminate answers that would flatly contradict the evidence. The second rule is, among various possibilities, to select the one answer that responds to the community's sense of Torah, by helping repair present day crises in the community, while at the same time reaffirming and extending the wisdoms of classical rabbinic Judaism. The third rule is that the capacity to make profound judgments of this kind requires prayer as well as critical rationality.
Halivni's essay illustrates another one of his "third approaches." This is to write within the style and language of the medieval tradition of rabbinic commentary. While it is not obvious in the English translation, almost all of Halivni's text is written within the Biblical, Talmudic, and Gaonic vocabularies typical of medieval commentaries: in both his textual citations (which you will see) and the paraphrases Paraphrases are traditional forms of singing within Presbyterian churches. They are sections of the Bible that have been set to music, in a similar fashion to Metrical Psalms. that are internal to his own sentences (which you may often not detect in the English). Halivni's text continually replays the medieval style, restating his main thesis each time it is demonstrated on yet another level of our textual heritage and re-citing illustrative sections of the siddur sid·dur
n. pl. sid·du·rim Judaism
A prayer book containing prayers for the various days of the year.
[Mishnaic Hebrew siddûr, arrangement, from , or of the rabbinic and biblical literatures. In this way, Halivni signals that his Jewish theology after the Shoah will remain deeply within the rabbinic tradition, reaffirming the Biblical Covenant between God and Israel and the traditional vocabularies of Bible, Talmud, and of post-Talmudic commentary. At the s ame time, by introducing the unsettling un·set·tle
v. un·set·tled, un·set·tling, un·set·tles
1. To displace from a settled condition; disrupt.
2. To make uneasy; disturb.
v.intr. witness of the Shoah into these traditional vocabularies, he delivers the transformative consequences of the Shoah into the heart of rabbinic Judaism. In this way, he does not "add on" to the tradition, but illustrates how it is relived today, for this generation.
Speaking for a moment as interpreter, I believe Halivni understands himself to be writing in a way that is reassuring to an Orthodox readership, indicating that rabbinic Judaism lives on today, after the Shoah and without insulating itself from the religious consequences of the Shoah. At the same time, his writing also delivers an unsettling message: rabbinic Judaism may not be identical, today, to the religion promoted in the last three decades by Orthodox leaders and roshei yeshivah. He does not say this in the way such leaders may say they fear: that is, he does not diminish traditional rabbinic piety pi·e·ty
n. pl. pi·e·ties
1. The state or quality of being pious, especially:
a. Religious devotion and reverence to God.
b. or halakhah or faith in the God of Israel. He suggests, instead, that, for the people Israel after Shoah, such piety may not be consistent with a number of claims made by Orthodox leaders today. The problem is not simply that these leaders may fail to speak Torah to the conditions of the day. It is, more gravely, that their anxieties about the changing face of our Covenant may have moved them to reframe Re`frame´
v. t. 1. To frame again or anew. rabbi nic Judaism as a system of unchanging un·chang·ing
Remaining the same; showing or undergoing no change: unchanging weather patterns; unchanging friendliness. doctrines and rules-or as a system of doctrines and rules that they alone are authorized to define for us, as if with direct divine commission. 
For Halivni, the deeper crisis is that traditional Judaism has been increasingly represented in the past three decades by such leaders, and that clal yisroel therefore begins to identify "Jewish piety" with the orthodoxy of such leaders, alone. The result is that both traditional and non-traditional Jews are led further away from the interpretive traditions of classical rabbinic Judaism. Traditional Jews are led away because they follow the examples of their leaders (whom they mistakenly identify with the methods of the classical sages); nontraditional Jews are led away because they flee from the same examples (which they also mistakenly identify with the methods of the classical sages).
I have introduced Halivni's approach as it is addressed to the community of Orthodox readers, but his essay might speak, in different ways, to readers from each of the denominations of Judaism. The task for any reader is to re-hear such a text within the terms appropriate to his or her community of practice and belief. This is how one speaks, in general, of talmud torah: receiving the texts of Scripture in their plain-sense, but then hearing them again through interpretations (d'rashot) that enable the plain-sense to guide everyday life in one's own community. But Halivni's work suggests that the tradition of reading both peshat and derash applies to more than the Tanakh. If Torah is present in the rabbis' interpretations of Torah, then we must also read the rabbis as we read Scripture, receiving the plain-sense and then reinterpreting it in the context of our own lives. And the same applies to every stage in the transmission of rabbinic Judaism right down to the most recent generation of scholars. This is no t to make "Scripture" out of these scholar's "merely human writings," but to hear Scripture in that dimension of their writings that transmits Torah, and to receive this dimension as filled with as much divine presence as fallible fal·li·ble
1. Capable of making an error: Humans are only fallible.
2. Tending or likely to be erroneous: fallible hypotheses. human presence--and as much fallible human presence as divine presence.
In Halivni's terms, God revealed only one Torah (not one Written and one Oral), but the fact that we possess a holy (and thus unchangeable un·change·a·ble
Not to be altered; immutable: the unchangeable seasons.
un·change ) -yet-fallible record of the written Torah means that the divine and the human hand are always inextricably in·ex·tri·ca·ble
a. So intricate or entangled as to make escape impossible: an inextricable maze; an inextricable web of deceit.
b. bound together in our readings of this Torah. This binding means that the divine hand may be directly present in the rabbinic scholarship of our generation (and much more is therefore at stake than merely academic study), but that none of us knows precisely where the divine part ends and the human part begins. One therefore reads such scholarship with intermingled senses of reverence (honoring the divine hand that may be detected) and caution (recognizing that a fallible, human hand will be more evident). In Halivni's words, our awareness of the imperfections in every stage in the transmission of Torah
instills a sense of humility, revealing human frailties and weaknesses [that commingle commingle
to mingle together, e.g. cattle mingling with deer. with the divine words The concept of the Divine Logos, translated loosely as The Divine Word, is originally credited to Heraclitus, circa about 535 - 475 BC.
The Divine Word may be interpreted to mean several things:
As you will see, this "humble faith" belongs to the Judaism that has accompanied Halivni "out of the fires." The religion and the Covenant with God are renewed after death, but they are not unscathed. Israelis relieved of inappropriate guilt, but realizes, instead, its awesome responsibilities for contributing to repair, tikkun. True prayer is possible once again, but the community for whom one might pray, and the urgent need for prayer, are expanded exponentially. One may address God once again, and the divine may be as near as the pages of one's text or the effort to read it; but divine mystery and complexity is only deepened, and the divine presence only intensifies one's sense of the enormous work remaining to fill what is absent in it.
For Halivni, Judaism after the Shoah is as dynamic as all Judaisms in the Tannaitic and most of the Amoraic sources. God shows His face anew to us today as He has always shown it, which means through the renewal of Judaism in each age. And after each destruction? Halivni's response appears to be yes and no. Yes, in the sense that Israel has faced destructions before and lived to renew its relationship with God. But no, in the sense that this destruction is unique, wholly unparalleled in its magnitude. And then? I must let you encounter Halivni's surprising response for yourselves.
PETER OCHS is Edgar M Bronfman Professor of Modern Jewish Thought at the University of Virginia and founder of Textual Reasoning: Electronic Journal of the Postmodern post·mod·ern
Of or relating to art, architecture, or literature that reacts against earlier modernist principles, as by reintroducing traditional or classical elements of style or by carrying modernist styles or practices to extremes: Jewish Philosophy Jewish philosophy
Any of various kinds of reflective thought engaged in by those identified as being Jews. In the Middle Ages, this meant any methodical and disciplined thought pursued by Jews, whether on specifically Judaic themes or not; in modern times, philosophers who Network. His books include The Return to Scripture in Judaism and Christianity (1993) and Peirce, Pragmatism pragmatism (prăg`mətĭzəm), method of philosophy in which the truth of a proposition is measured by its correspondence with experimental results and by its practical outcome. , and the Logic of Scripture (1998) His article, "From Peshat to Derash and Back Again: Talmud for the Modern Religious Jew," appeared in the Summer 1997 issue.
(1.) From personal correspondence.
(2.) Some leaders even claimed, for example, that their yeshivot represent the true tradition of Torah, since they survived the Shoah and must therefore have been free of sin.
(3.) This and the next paragraph of biography is paraphrased from a previous essay I wrote about Halivni's work: "From Peshat to Derash and Back Again: Talmud for the Modem Religious Jew," Judaism Vol. 46 No.3 (Summer 1997): 271-292, esp. 278-279.
(4.) Sources and Traditions: A Source Critical Commentary on the Talmud (Hebrew), Tel Aviv Tel Aviv (tĕl əvēv`), city (1994 pop. 355,200), W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Oficially named Tel Aviv–Jaffa, it is Israel's commercial, financial, communications, and cultural center and the core of its largest 1968; Jerusalem 1975, 1982, and continuing.
(5.) He reconstructs the redactional history of the Babylonian Talmud in order to resolve intractable intractable /in·trac·ta·ble/ (in-trak´tah-b'l) resistant to cure, relief, or control.
1. Difficult to manage or govern; stubborn.
2. problems in various Talmudic sugyot, or "arguments." His major thesis is that the structure of the sugyot and the "anonymous or setam [Stammaitic] portions of the Talmud were the product of a particularly fertile and creative period after Ravina and Ray Ashi and during the years 427-501 c.c." (Irwin Haut, The Talmud as Law or Literature: An Analysis of David Halivni's Mekorot Umasorot [New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Bet Sha'ar Press, 1982], p. 6). Halivni argues that the word of the Stammaim (whose editorial identify and name is another product of his work) is also in need of correction: They had to offer forced readings of earlier sources, because they based their readings on truncated truncated adjective Shortened traditions that did not reflect the precise texts that earlier sages had before them. Halivni explains that the Stammaim preferred to live with forced reading (dechikum) than to deny the consistency of their textual sources. In this way, they help ed initiate the trajectory of apologetic rabbinic scholarship that Halivni tries to correct, in its medieval contexts or in the contexts of Orthodox learning today. (Comments drawn from my forward to David Halivni, Revelation Restored: Divine Writ and Critical Responses [Boulder: Westview, 1997].)
(6.) Among the works are: Midrash, Mishnah, and Gemara (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press The Harvard University Press is a publishing house, a division of Harvard University, that is highly respected in academic publishing. It was established on January 13, 1913. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. , 1986); Peshat and Derash: Plain and Applied Meaning in Rabbinic Exegesis exegesis
Scholarly interpretation of religious texts, using linguistic, historical, and other methods. In Judaism and Christianity, it has been used extensively in the study of the Bible. Textual criticism tries to establish the accuracy of biblical texts. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991); Revelation Restored: Divine Writ and Critical Responses (Boulder, GO: Westview Press, 1997); and a more scholarly version of the latter, "Reflections on Classical Jewish Hermeneutics hermeneutics, the theory and practice of interpretation. During the Reformation hermeneutics came into being as a special discipline concerned with biblical criticism. ," Proceedings of the American Academy The American Academy in Berlin is a non-partisan academic institution in Berlin. It was founded in September 1994 by a group of prominent Americans and Germans, among them Richard Holbrooke, Henry Kissinger, Richard von Weizsäcker, Fritz Stern and Otto Graf Lambsdorff and opened in for Jewish Research Vol. LXII (1995): 21-127. For overviews of Halivni's interpretive approaches, see Irwin Haut (cited above); and most recently, Yaakov Heberman, "David Halivni: Preeminent pre·em·i·nent or pre-em·i·nent
Superior to or notable above all others; outstanding. See Synonyms at dominant, noted.
[Middle English, from Latin prae Scholar and Critic of the Talmud" (Hebrew), Mahut 22 (Winter 2000): 7-22.
(7.) David Weiss Halivni, The Book and the Sword: A Life of Learning in the Shadow of Destruction (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998), pp. 46-47.
(8.) The Book and the Sword, p. 57.
(9.) See P. Ochs, "Wounded Word, Wounded Interpreter," in Humanity at the Limit: The Impact of the Holocaust Experience on Jews and Christians, edited by Michael Signer (Bloomington: Indiana University Press Indiana University Press, also known as IU Press, is a publishing house at Indiana University that engages in academic publishing, specializing in the humanities and social sciences. It was founded in 1950. Its headquarters are located in Bloomington, Indiana. , 2000), pp. 148-160, esp. pp. 152-154.
(10.) In Revelation Restored, Halivni labels this "transcendent history"; in my Preface to his book, I re-label it "depth historiography," as distinguished from the "plain-sense historiography" of historical science.
(11.) According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Halivni, this self-justifying behavior represents only the most recent expression of an ancient rabbinic proclivity pro·cliv·i·ty
n. pl. pro·cliv·i·ties
A natural propensity or inclination; predisposition. See Synonyms at predilection.
[Latin pr for apologetic reasoning. Halivni locates an early symptom of this proclivity in the habit of some Amoraic sages to claim that their halakhic opinions are based on traditions of oral revelation or halakha le-moshe mi-sinai (Literally "laws of Moses from Sinai," the Talmud interprets this term to mean that "they are only traditional laws (hilkhata) for which the rabbis ... [may find subsequent,] scriptural scrip·tur·al
1. Of or relating to writing; written.
2. often Scriptural Of, relating to, based on, or contained in the Scriptures. support (asmakhta)" Revelation Restored, p. 54.). The proclivity increases steadily after the Amoraic period, on into the medieval and modem periods of rabbinic jurisprudence jurisprudence (jr'ĭsprd`əns), study of the nature and the origin and development of law. . Halivni's concern is that, by appealing to halakha le moshe mi sinai, rabbinic leaders are claiming, in effect, that there is direct divine authority for their opinions, which are therefore immune to the usual give-and-take of rabbinic debate and discussion. He fears the tendency has become dominant in many of the ultra-Orthodox yeshivot, whose leaders may even (to return to the theme of "Prayer in the Shoals") refer to events of the Shoals as justification for their own rabbinic authority.
(12.) David Weiss Halivni, Revelation Restored, p. 89.