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Rabbi Soloveitchik Was A Bible Expert


Written by Gil Student

The Accusation

Rabbi Joseph D. Soloveitchik is regarded as one of the most influential rabbis of the 20th century, the "unchallenged leader" of Orthodox Judaism and the top international authority on halakha (Jewish religious law). Soloveitchik was responsible for instructing and ordaining more than 2,000 rabbis, "an entire generation" of Jewish leadership.

N.Y. Times religion reporter Ari Goldman described the basis of the rabbi's authority:

"Soloveitchik came from a long line of distinguished Talmudic scholars...Until his early 20s, he devoted himself almost exclusively to the study of the Talmud...He came to Yeshiva University's Elchanan Theological Seminary where he remained the pre-eminent teacher in the Talmud...He held the title of Leib Merkin professor of Talmud...sitting with his feet crossed in front of a table bearing an open volume of the Talmud." (N.Y. Times, April 10, 1993, p. 38).

Nowhere does Goldman refer to Soloveitchik's knowledge of the Bible as the basis for being one of the leading authorities on Jewish law.

 

Rabbi Soloveitchik was an expert in many fields. He was a world-class philosopher with a PhD from the University of Berlin. He was a linguist, speaking numerous languages with a keen insight into their grammatical structures. He was an expert in the Bible. Most of all, however, he was a brilliant talmudist. The Talmud is the area where his uniqueness was unparalleled and is what made his brilliance famous.

However, he was unquestionably a Bible expert. Much of his writings are laced with biblical insight. His books and essays include commentaries on the two creation stories, parts of 2 Samuel, Song of Songs, and many other biblical passages. Without this expertise he could never have been the most influential orthodox rabbi in America. Without his broad and deep knowledge of the Scriptures he would never have been taken seriously as a leading rabbi. However, just like every academic has their area of expertise, Rabbi Soloveitchik excelled in the complex and intricate world of the Talmud. This does not mean that he neglected the Bible. In fact, some of his students became Bible professors such as Rabbi Shalom Carmy and Rabbi Moshe Bernstein. However, unlike many rabbis in history like Rabbi David Kimchi or Rabbi Meir Leibush Malbim, Rabbi Soloveitchik's greatest contributions to Jewish law and literature are in the area of Talmud.

The following is taken from the index of just one of Rabbi Soloveitchik's many books and is a list of biblical verses quoted in that book. This alone should convince people that he was indeed a biblical expert.

 

Reflections of the Rav vol. I

Genesis
1:1 -- 21*
1:3 -- 26
1:5 -- 27
1:28 -- 26,174,177*
2:4 -- 13,21*
2:16-17 -- 19,22*
3:1 -- 19,22*
3:5 -- 130,137*
3:19 -- 19
3:21 -- 24,29*
6:11 -- 19-20,22*
12:5 -- 136,138*
15:2 -- 13,21*,49
15:8 -- 13,21*
15:18 -- 122-123
18:1 -- 30*
18:19 -- 213,217*
18:25 -- 95
23:4 -- 169,177*
24:12 -- 84
24:66 -- 121,126*
24:67 -- 121,126*
25:11 -- 30*
25:21 -- 84
25:31 -- 49
29:30 -- 119
29:31 -- 119
32:11 -- 49
32:17-18 -- 174,177*
42:9 -- 117,125*
44:30 -- 120
45:3 -- 67,70*

Exodus
2:23 -- 185
3:1 -- 185
3:10 -- 184,186*
3:11 -- 155
3:12 -- 159*,209,217*
4:28 -- 168*
5:22 -- 152,159*
6:3 -- 111,116*
6:6-7 -- 210
6:26 -- 168*
12:3 -- 203
12:43 -- 108,110,116*
13:1-10 -- 114,115
13:5 -- 118
13:8 -- 208,216*
13:11-16 -- 114,115
13:17-37 -- 37,39*,111,116*
16:16-18 -- 155,159*
17:16 -- 180,185*
18:12 -- 215,217
18:13 -- 51,58*
18:15 -- 214,217*
18:16 -- 57,58*
19:3 -- 213,217*
19:5 -- 119,126*
19:6 -- 156,126*
19:10 -- 25
19:20 -- 77,87*
20:1 -- 193,196*
20:8 -- 123
20:9 -- 19,22*
20:10 -- 22*,25,30*
21:19 -- 26
23:4-5 -- 191,196*
23:25 -- 87*
24:7 -- 89
32 -- 150
32:6 -- 58*
32:9 -- 90
32:9-10 -- 150-151
32:10 -- 158*
32:16 -- 206*
32:19 -- 101
32:30 -- 52,58*
33:4 -- 52,58*
33:11 -- 78,87*
33:18-23 -- 188,195*
33:20 -- 13,21*
35:31 -- 141,148

Leviticus
5:21 -- 194,196*
10:3 -- 103,106*
11:8 -- 100
14 -- 100
16:8 -- 42,50*
16:15-29 -- 100
18:4 -- 50*,100
18:5 -- 99,105,106*
19:2 -- 79
19:14 -- 191,196*
19:16 -- 195*
25:35 -- 28,30*
25:55 -- 204
26:32 -- 126*

Numbers
10:29 -- 125*
10:33 -- 154,159*
11: -- 150
11:4 -- 154159
11:5 -- 154-155
11:6 -- 155,159*
11:10 -- 152,155,159*
11:11 -- 151-152
11:11-15 -- 151,156,159*
11:12 -- 156,159*
11:32 -- 154,159*
12:2 -- 124
12:7 -- 124
12:13 -- 49
13:1-2 -- 125*
13:2 -- 117,126*
13:18 -- 118,125*
13:19 -- 118,125*
13:19-20 -- 118,126*
13:22 -- 123
13:33 -- 198
15:39 -- 154,159*
16 -- 139
16:3 -- 133,138*,140,148*
16:16-18 -- 155
19 -- 100
19:2 -- 108,116*
19:17 -- 109,114,116*
20:5 -- 210
20:29 -- 168
23:9 -- 172,177*

Deuteronomy
1:17 -- 132,137*
3:24 -- 83
4:9-10 -- 123
4:20 -- 189,195*
4:24 -- 24,29*
4:29 -- 165,168*,214,217*
5:10 -- 100
6:4-9 -- 114,115
6:5 -- 115
6:7 -- 26,30*,115
6:21 -- 197,206*
9:7 -- 123
10:20 -- 134,138*
11:12 -- 120,126*
11:13 -- 79,80,87*
11:13-21 -- 114,115
12:2 -- 124
13:5 -- 29*,137*
13:15 -- 24
14:23 -- 217*
16:3 -- 216*
16:13 -- 123
17:9-11 -- 161,168*
17:14-15 -- 127,131,137*
17:17 -- 127
17:20 -- 127,137*
22:8 -- 49,50*,196*
22:11 -- 100
24:9 -- 123
24:17-18 -- 190,195*
25:17 -- 123,180,185*
25:19 -- 180,185*
26:5 -- 207
26:5-10 -- 208,216*
28:9 -- 26,30*,137*
28:66 -- 200,206*
30:11 -- 61,69*
30:14 -- 61,69*
61:17 -- 65,36,39*
32:8-9 -- 26,30*
32:14 -- 9
33:5 -- 160,168*
34:6 -- 24,30*
34:8 -- 167
34:10 -- 124

Joshua
24:4 -- 111,116*

Judges
17:6 -- 130,137*

Samuel I
2:2 -- 73
8:1 -- 131
8:5 -- 128
8:7 -- 137*
8:20 -- 137*
15:15 -- 129,137*

Samuel II
8:15 -- 56,58*

Kings I
8:28 -- 77-78

Isaiah
48:10 -- 189,195*
49:16 -- 101,106*
54:13 -- 165,168*

Jeremiah
29:7 -- 170,177*

Joel
14:2 -- 79

Amos
2:6 -- 65,66,69*,70*

Jonah
1:3 -- 126*
3:8 -- 20,22*

Micah
4:5 -- 177,177*
6:8 -- 77,87*

Habakuk
3:6 -- 120,120*

Zechariah
8:16 -- 55,58*

Malachi
2:7 -- 134,138*,161,167,168*

Psalms
1:3 -- 73,164,168*
4:5 -- 98
24:1 -- 17,22*
30:6 -- 49,50*
41:10 -- 67,70*
42:2 -- 164,168*
65:3 -- 79,87*
82:1 -- 62,69*,132,137*
83:5 -- 180,185*
85:11 -- 168*
104:29-30 -- 37,39*
113:1 -- 83,88*
115:1 -- 83,88*
116:4 -- 83,88*
116:11 -- 70*
116:12 -- 83,88*
116:17 -- 83,88*
118:1 -- 83,88*
118:5 -- 81
119:80 -- 108,112,116*
121:1-2 -- 84,88*
130:3 -- 45,50*
136:1 -- 215
139:7 -- 126*
139:7-8 -- 101,106*

Proverbs
8:29 -- 102
17:14 -- 63,69*

Job
4:17 -- 45,50*
19:23-24 -- 101,106*

Ruth
1:16 -- 108,116*

Ecclesiastes
1:2 -- 85,88*
1:4 -- 85,88*
1:5 -- 29
1:8 -- 85,88*
1:9 -- 85,88*
1:18 -- 86
2:1 -- 86
2:18 -- 86
5:9 -- 86
9:12 -- 41,50*

Esther
3:8 -- 183,186*
3:10 -- 183,186*
3:15 -- 179,185*
4:1 -- 68,70*
4:13 -- 183,186*
4:16 -- 183,186*
5:13 -- 182,185*
9:27 -- 187,195*
9:28 -- 178,185*,188,195*

Chronicles I
29:11 -- 129,137*

 

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Copyright 2000 Gil Student