Title: Halakhic Morality: Essays on Ethics and Masorah by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Editors: Rabbis Joel B. Wolowelsky and Reuven Ziegler
Publisher: Toras HoRav Foundation and Maggid Books, 2017
The latest posthumous volume of the essays of the great Torah master of the last century, the Rav, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, focuses on Ethics and Tradition. With penetrating insight, soaring language and total mastery of the full range of rabbinic sources, the Rav creates a Torah approach to basic problems “whose solution cannot be found in the Shulhan Arukh and must be inferred by way of deduction from ancient principles and axioms.”
The Rav begins his project with an in-depth examination of the first four mishnayot of Pirkei Avot, raising topics such as the sources of ethics, power and persuasion, elitism and democracy, educational philosophy, freedom and coercion, among others. He follows this with an extensive discussion of “Tsedakah: Brotherhood and Fellowship” and shorter essays including “Religious Styles” in which he portrays four rabbis who had occupied the pulpit in Brisk. He chose these four, he said, because he was acquainted with their biographies and with their personalities.
These essays were written a half-century ago, but modern readers will surely feel their contemporary relevance and powerful impact.