Days of Deliv­er­ance: Essays on Purim and Hanukkah

Rab­bi Joseph Soloveitchik
  • Review
By – March 26, 2012

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.

Wal­lace Greene, Ph.D., has held sev­er­al uni­ver­si­ty appoint­ments, and cur­rent­ly writes and lec­tures on Jew­ish and his­tor­i­cal subjects.

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