web analytics
November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Talmudic, Tenacious, Tough-Minded: An Interview With Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz


Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

Why, then, did you restore the traditional page and move your commentary to the back of the book in the new editions of your Gemara?

For some people it has sentimental value. There are all kinds of people who are sentimental, and sometimes you give the people who are sentimental their sentiments.

The new Gemaras have the name “Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz” on the front cover. Most people know you as “Rabbi Steinsaltz.” Where did “Even-Israel” come from?

It’s a long story, but it’s connected with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He wanted me to change my name for some time. He didn’t give me any explanation.

And he picked the name “Even-Israel”?

[We picked it] together in a way.

How many years ago was this?

Twenty-odd years.

Some people are unsure whether you are a Lubavitcher chassid or not. Are you?

Israeli President Shimon Peres presents Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz with the Presidential Award of Distinction in a ceremony on Monday.

I am quite connected. The question is: How much? And that is something you have to ask Lubavitcher chassidim. Some of them will tell you that I am the pillar of Lubavitch, and some will tell you that they don’t talk to me. So you have to ask them.

You don’t, then, necessarily define yourself as a 100 percent Lubavitcher chassid.

I don’t know how you [measure] this. Some people know the trick. If you tell me how it’s done, I will tell you if I am or not.

You were born in 1937 in Palestine to secular parents. How did you become frum?

The story is too simple. I was a thinking boy.

Also, my ancestors on both sides were Rebbes – the Slonimer Rebbe and the Worka Rebbe – and the yichus goes on farther to the Maharsha. So [the frumkeit] was in there, and it worked itself out when the time came.

But what specifically inspired you to become frum? Was it someone you met, something you read?

I read lots of things. I am a great reader.

But it wasn’t any kind of dramatic or traumatic thing. It was, I would say, the very old way – something like Avraham Avinu’s way.

And your parents were okay with your decision?

My late father asked me one thing: “Are you serious about it?” And when I said yes, he supported me all the way.

Just like that?

As I told you, my father [descended from yichus], and it showed. You could see it in his behavior and his understanding of what is essential and what is not essential, and what is important and what is not important.

Fast forward 40 years: In 1989, many leading haredi rabbis in Israel banned your books, partially because they objected to your portrayal of biblical figures in some of your writings as human beings with human feelings and frailties rather than saints…

…I don’t want to go into the details. Some of it was not nice, but not on my side.

On my side, I tried to do one thing, and that was to keep quiet. I could have said lots of things, but I tried to keep quiet because I didn’t want to besmirch anybody and it wouldn’t have done any good.

Basically, people don’t really have any questions, except that they may not like my face. Otherwise, when it comes to any real point, there’s nothing in it.

What about the argument that you portrayed the avos and imahos as human beings with human faults?

Look, take Rashi or the Ibn Ezra or the Ramban or any of the commentators – all of them do the same thing. It’s just pure nonsense what you are saying. I depicted the avos and imahos as they are found in every Jewish source. I just put them together, and all the rest is just a combination of am ha’aratzos and some dislike.

Getting back to contemporary times: In 2004, a group of Israeli rabbanim attempted to revive the ancient semicha ritual and reestablish the Sanhedrin. At the time, you accepted the position of nasi of the Sanhedrin. You resigned, however, in 2008. Why did you join and why did you resign?

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “Talmudic, Tenacious, Tough-Minded: An Interview With Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz”

  1. Jonathan Weber says:

    I bought the new Koren Publishers Berachot. I can say as a secular teacher, it is the ultimate teaching tool. Everything is so crystal clear. You don't need to study with a Rabbi to learn from it. Kol HaKavod… Yesher Koach!

  2. Atraf Creez says:

    BS"D
    As a "religious" Jew,I understand what you say Jonathan,but as is universally known & Rav Shteinszaltz says ,he made his version for people that won't think they understand the whole page they learned.& as our Sages say,whoever thinks he has learned the whole Gemorrah missed the point,he hasn't even learned the first page.
    (The Gemorrah starts on page 2).
    If I understand what you meant to say, that this edition is so well done,you could learn on your own and gain much insight.But think how much more with a teacher.

  3. Atraf Creez says:

    Many Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidim if asked are they connected to the Rebbe will answer the same.We TRY to be (sometimes, often, not enough).Try telling an agnostic Jew "O, so you aren't really Jewish".He would blow up."How can you say that of me?"Ask an honest religious Jew if he is religious."How often a day do you mean?" "Are you asking me how many hours I serve HaShem during the day & how many I serve myself?". A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Same with a Chasid.But you can't ask a Chasid to grade himself/herself.We just hope that our actions bear fruit.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ferguson, Missouri: rioting against racism, encouraging murder
The Foul Stench of the Ferguson Fallout
Latest Indepth Stories
Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.

Cries of justice for Michael Brown drowned out any call for justice for Police Officer Daryl Wilson.

Cloistered captain Obama, touts his talents and has the temerity to taunt Bibi,his besieged ally

Former PM Ariel Sharon succinctly said, “the fate of Netzarim (Gush Katif) is the fate of Tel-Aviv.”

“What’s a line between friends?”

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

Here, things seem to get a little hazy, why should a Jewish State “based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel” confine itself to ensuring “complete equality… irrespective of religion, race, etc.”, especially when this includes “Arab inhabitants” who launched an “onslaught” against the State, months before it even existed? […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

More Articles from Elliot Resnick
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

You can’t say “Jewish French,” “Jewish British,” “Jewish Italian.” They are “French Jews,” “British Jews,” and “Italian Jews” – because they’re seen as Jews first and residents or citizens of their countries second.

Joshua Klein

Another thing they have been covering up is the nature of the building that was attacked. To this day people refer to it as a consulate or an embassy, but it wasn’t.

The reality is that civility is less important than clarity, and right now only very few people on the Left are interested in having a civil conversation about the merits of particular policy solutions.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

If you remember, in 2006, a Jewish kid in Paris, Ilan Halimi, was abducted, beaten, and held hostage for three weeks… These are the kinds of people attending these Gaza solidarity rallies.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/talmudic-tenacious-tough-minded-an-interview-with-rabbi-adin-steinsaltz/2012/06/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: