Be-Ron Yaḥad: Studies in Jewish Thought and Theology in Honor of Nehemia Polen

Be-Ron Yaḥad: Studies in Jewish Thought and Theology in Honor of Nehemia Polen


Edited by Ariel Evan Mayse & Avraham Yizhak Green

Series: Jewish Thought, Jewish History: New Studies
ISBN: 9781644690192 (hardback)
Pages: 438 pp.
Publication Date: August 2019

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The present volume honors Rabbi Professor Nehemia Polen, a rare scholar whose religious teachings, spiritual writings, and academic scholarship come together into a sustained project of interpretive imagination and engagement. With intellectual integrity and remarkable religious insight, Polen’s work expands the reach of Torah into an academic quest for ever-broadening depth and connectivity. The essays in this collection, written by students, colleagues, and friends, are a testament to his enduring impact on the scholarly community. The contributions explore a range of historical periods and themes, centering upon the fields dear to Polen’s heart, but they are united by a common thread: each essay is grounded in deeply engaged textual scholarship casting a glance upon the sources that is at once critical and beneficent. As a whole, they seek to give readers a richer sense of the fabric of Jewish interpretation and theology, including the history of Jewish mysticism, the promise and perils of exegesis, and the contemporary relevance of premodern and early modern texts.

Ariel Evan Mayse joined the faculty of Stanford University in 2017 as an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies, and is rabbi-in-residence of Atiq: Jewish Make Institute ( He holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from Harvard University and rabbinic ordination from Beit Midrash Har'el. His research examines the role of language in Hasidism, the formation of early Hasidic literature, the renaissance of Jewish mysticism in the nineteenth and twentieth century, and the relationship between spirituality and law in modern Jewish thought.

Avraham Yizhak Green, a nationally recognized historian of Jewish religion and a theologian, is the founding dean of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College and now serves as its rector. He has lectured widely and taught Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, and theology to several generations of students at the University of Pennsylvania; the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, where he served as both dean and president; Brandeis University; and Hebrew College. Green is the founder of Havurat Shalom, an egalitarian Jewish community in Somerville, MA, and remains a leading independent figure in the Jewish renewal movement. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including: Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings from Around the Maggid’s Table (Jewish Lights, 2013); and Radical Judaism: Rethinking God and Tradition (Yale University Press, 2011), now available in Hebrew translation. His complete translation of Me’or Eynayim, an early Hasidic classic, is forthcoming with Stanford University Press.

Table of Contents

Reading in Harmony: An Introduction

Judaism as a Path of Love
Avraham Yizhak (Arthur) Green

To Be or Not to Be: A Tale of Five Sisters
Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg

From the Cleft of the Rock: The Eclipse of God in the Bible, Midrash, and Post-Holocaust Theology
Rachel Adelman

The Unexpected Impact of Sections and Subsections in a Translation of Vayyiqra Rabba: A Case Study
Chaim Milikowsky

From Leviticus to Latkes: The Origins of Hanukkah’s Miraculous Oil and the Meaning of the Festival
Michael Rosenberg

Between Tradition and Innovation: The Pedagogical Possibilities of the Penai Yehoshua
Jane Kanarek

Rediscovering the Covenant: The Contemporary Hasidic Thought of Rabbi Shmuel Berezovsky of Slonim
Alon Goshen-Gottstein

Protest or Discernment? Divine Limitation and Mystical Activism in the Qedushat Levi
Or N. Rose

Leadership as Individual Relationships: A Close Study of the No‘am Elimelekh
Ebn Leader

Letter to Riga: Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn’s Meditative System for a Young Woman
Naftali Loewenthal

Hasidic Women: Beyond Egalitarianist Discourse
Tsippi Kauffman

Prophecy and Imagination in the Teachings of R. Tzadoq ha-Kohen of Lublin, R. Abraham Isaac ha-Kohen Kook, and R. Kalonymous Kalman Shapira
Daniel Reiser

Poetics of Exegesis in the Sefat Emet’s Homilies: Semantic Innovations for Discernment and Disclosure
Elie Holzer

Transcendent God, Immanent Kabbalah: Prolegomena to the Hasidic Teachings of R. Avraham ha-Malakh
Avinoam J. Stillman

Losing the Princess: Returning to Self: An Archetypal-Ritual Theory for Spiritual Journeying
Aubrey Glazer

Caring for the Graves of the Righteous: The Holocaust in Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin’s Sippurei Ḥasidim
Avraham Rosen

“Like a Moth to the Flame”: The Death of Nadav and Avihu in Hasidic Literature
Ariel Evan Mayse