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Love and Terror in the God Encounter

The Theological Legacy of Rabbi Josef B. Soloveitchik
Jewish Lights
Publication Year


The intellectual legacy of one of the twentieth century’s greatest religious thinkers―explained by a leading theologian of our day.

“It is only through experiencing the contradictions in human existence, through being overwhelmed by the divine presence, through the finite human being feeling terror-stricken by the infinite majesty of God that one can develop an authentic religious personality.”
―David Hartman (From Chapter 6)

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903–1993) profoundly influenced modern Orthodox Judaism in the United States―and Judaism as a whole―by opening up a discourse between the tradition of Torah study and Western philosophical thought. The future of both religious Zionism in Israel and of Orthodoxy in America hangs to a great extent on how we interpret his intellectual legacy. Dr. David Hartman’s penetrating analysis of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s work reveals a Judaism committed to intellectual courage, integrity and openness.

A renowned theologian and philosopher, Hartman meticulously explores the subtlety and complexity of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s theological thought, exposing a surprising intersection of halakhic tradition and modern Western theology―a confrontation that deepens and expands our spiritual understanding. Hartman’s provocative interpretation bears witness to the legitimacy of remaining loyal to the Judaic tradition without sacrificing one’s intellectual freedom and honesty.


“A unique combination of love and criticism, depth and respect. This book is an invitation to experience Hartman’s ongoing philosophical dialogue with his great teacher, and is an important contribution to understanding the thought of both these major figures.”
Prof. Avi Sagi, director, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Hereneutics and Cultural Studies, Bar Ilan University

“Compellingly demonstrates how R. Soloveitchik joined intellectual brilliance in Jewish learning with a deep empathy for modern existentialist philosophy. Undoubtedly, this work will become the standard for future scholarship on the majestic thought of R. Soloveitchick.” Prof. Yehuda (Jerome) Gellman, Department of Philosophy, Ben-Gurion University of Negev

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