A Quote from Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik

Joseph Soloveitchik died in 1993.

He was a teacher. A philosopher. Orthodox Jew. Mentor.

There are many works attributed to his life’s work. The quote I want to share with you is from a book that was formed out a collection of Rabbi Soltoveitchik’s lectures. It was collected and published in 1989.

While there is no indication that Joseph and I have come to the same conclusion regarding Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, Rabbi Joseph came to amazing conclusions regarding the fate of mankind that are harmonious with the hope of the Gospel…specifically the restoration of the world. Redemption. He believed that God was going to  fix that which is broken. That Adam (the first man), and therefore all of humanity was invited to participate with the Divine to steward God’s creation. We are not left alone to accomplish this task. We have the power and presence of the Almighty One. It is actually God’s garden. We are invited to preserve life as well as till and plant in order to form new life.

Before you read this quote, note two things:

  • Joseph’s wife died in 1967. Joseph lived another 26 years without being able to be arm and arm with her.
  • Though he is known as an American Rabbi, he was born in the Russian Empire and received a PhD in Germany in the early 1930s. Think of that: a Jewish philosopher in the midst of some of the most horrible things known to man that were done by the Russian Empire and Nazi Germany. Think of the difficult emotions he must have experienced towards his seemingly fellow man.
Man’s singularity is derived from the breath “He [G-d] breathed into his nostrils at the moment of creation” (Genesis 2:7). Thus, we do share in the universal historical experience, and God’s providential concern does embrace all of humanity.”
— Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik
Jason English