T HE J EWISH Q UA R T E R LY R EVIE W, Vol. 106, No. 2 (Spring 2016) 150–154 Rabbinics without the Crutch of Canonicity ELIYAHU S TERN Yale University ON ‘‘RABBI ELIJAH WILNA, GAON’’ (1890) W HAT I S T H E PL AC E of rabbinics in Western thought, and what is its importance to English-speaking peoples? These still-pressing questions were perhaps ﬁrst addressed in 1896 by Solomon Schechter in his groundbreaking Studies in Judaism. ‘‘The purpose’’ of this work, he explained, ‘‘was . . . to bring under notice of the English public the type of men produced by the Synagogue of the Eastern Jews.’’ Accomplish- ing this task, however, was no simple matter; Schechter acknowledged that some of his readers probably found ‘‘that Synagogue’’ and its rab- binic representatives ‘‘repulsive.’’ Still, he was undeterred, for in the East- ern Synagogue one encountered a unique set of ‘‘intellectual forces’’ that were not to be found in the ‘‘practical tendencies’’ of those residing closer to the Atlantic. The challenges and aspirations of Schechter’s project are highlighted in the essay he wrote on the eighteenth-century kabbalist and rabbinic commentator Rabbi Elijah of Vilna. Published in pamphlet
Jewish Quarterly Review – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Jun 22, 2016
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