Collected Essays

BookCollected Essays

Collected Essays

Volume III

Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


September 30th, 2019





Two main areas of medieval Jewish thought are explored in this collection of previously published and new essays. A section on Sefer asidim brings together over half a century of Soloveitchik’s writings on German Pietism, many of which were published in out-of-the-way places, and adds two new essays. The first is a methodological study on how to read Sefer asidim, a baffling potpourri of pietistic sayings, religious practices, and stories, and on what constitutes (and does not constitute) a valid historical inference. The second new essay, ‘Sefer asidim and the Social Sciences’, is a guide to the soundness of a number of sociological and anthropological inferences that have been drawn from that work in contemporary historiography.

A section on R. Avraham ben David of Posquières updates Soloveitchik’s ‘Ravad of Posquières: A Programmatic Essay’, a highly influential essay which argued that, throughout the Middle Ages, Ravad was known and his influence determined by his role as talmudic commentator, not by his now-famous critiques of Mishneh Torah, which were largely unknown in that period. He has added a new essay on the acrimonious relationship between Ravad and R. Zerahyah ha-Levi of Lunel and the tensions that existed between the stormy, low-born genius of Posquières and the Jewish aristocracy of Languedoc, particularly of Lunel.

About The Author

Haym Soloveitchik is the Merkin Family Research Professor at Yeshiva University, New York, and the former director of the School of Jewish Studies at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has also taught at the Sorbonne and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He has published books in Hebrew on pawnbroking and usury, Jewish involvement in the medieval wine trade, and the use of responsa as a historical source.