Rupture and Reconstruction

BookRupture and Reconstruction

Rupture and Reconstruction

The Transformation of Modern Orthodoxy

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


September 10th, 2021

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The essay that forms the core of this book is an attempt to understand the developments that have occurred in Orthodox Jewry in America in the last seventy years, and to analyse their implications. The prime change is what is often described as ‘the swing to the right’, a marked increase in ritual stringency, a rupture in patterns of behaviour that has had major consequences not only for Jewish society but also for the nature of Jewish spirituality. For Haym Soloveitchik, the key feature at the root of this change is that, as a result of migration to the ‘New Worlds’ of England, the US, and Israel and acculturation to its new surroundings, American Jewry—indeed, much of the Jewish world— had to reconstruct religious practice from normative texts: observance could no longer be transmitted mimetically, on the basis of practices observed in home and street. In consequence, behaviour once governed by habit is now governed by rule. This new edition allows the author to deal with criticisms raised since the essay, long established as a classic in the field, was originally published, and enables readers to gain a fuller perspective on a topic central to today’s Jewish world and its development.

'One of the most influential essays in the past thirty years [...] As an account of the development of what we know as right-wing Orthodoxy, Soloveitchik’s is compact and cogent. And some of his insights perhaps apply beyond observant Orthodoxy.'Simon Rocker, The Jewish Chronicle

'Rereading “Rupture” in light of Dr. Soloveitchik’s clarifications affords us the opportunity to consider anew how its brilliant descriptions can help us understand our present and develop prescriptions for our future.'
Rabbi Aryeh Klapper, Jewish Press

Author Information

Haym Soloveitchik is the Merkin Family Research Professor at Yeshiva University, New York, and the former director of the School of Jewish Studies at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has also taught at the Sorbonne and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He has published books in Hebrew on pawnbroking and usury, Jewish involvement in the medieval wine trade, and the use of responsa as a historical source. Three volumes of his Collected Essays have been published by the Littman Library.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Note on Transliteration and Names15
Rupture and Reconstruction18
Replies to Critics70
Reply to Dr Chavel70
Reply to the Critics in Tradition83