Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903 – 1993), a towering intellect, shaped what today is called modern Orthodoxy. His rigorous analytical skills made him the pre-eminent Talmudist of the 20th century. Descended from great scholars in a direct line from the school of the Gaon of Vilna, he was known simply as “The Rov,” the rabbi-teacher par excellence. This singular distinction however is only a part of his greatness. He earned a Ph.D. in philosophy, was a gifted orator in Yiddish and English, a brilliant writer, a theologian, and an educator who ordained thousands of rabbis during his more than four decades at Yeshiva University.
In the ten essays in this volume are themes inherent in Hanukkah and Purim, excavated and analyzed as only the Rov could. Brilliant insights abound. This book is to be studied and savored, not just read. Voltaire, Sophocles, Thomas Carlyle, and Virgil are cited alongside the Talmud, Maimonides, R. Judah Halevy, and R. Mendel of Kotzk.
The eternal destiny of man is a theme visited often in the Rov’s analysis of the Purim story. Esther’s tale forms the backdrop for understanding the human condition and God’s relationship to the Jewish people. The Purim story has contemporary relevance since it shows the fragility of the human condition. Universal lessons are also drawn from the story and laws of Hannukah. His original exegesis of the liturgical texts and his homiletical imagery provide reflective insights. The Rov focused on the spiritual aspects of the military victory and drew parallels to contemporary Israel. Days of Deliverance is a welcome addition to the Rov’s bibliography, a mature, sophisticated, and theologically exhilarating journey of understanding with a master pedagogue and thinker as your guide.