Page 19 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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LEVY / ORTHODOX PUBLISHING EXPLOSION IN PERSPECTIVE
7
its observant intelligensia, but this does not appear to be happen­
ing either.2
Some Orthodox writers have taken public stands that seem
politically or doctrinally outside the range of current Orthodox
thought.3 Though they may fail to meet popular expectations
and even arouse passionate attacks from other Orthodox quar­
ters, they do stimulate serious discussion of the proper limits of
O rthodox doctrine and belief and must be included in ou r
discussion.
On the other hand, there are criteria that
ipso facto
render a
publication Orthodox. Public figures serving as leaders in Ortho­
dox institutions (Yeshiva University, Mizrachi, or any of the
major yeshivot, to mention a few) are usually recognized as
spokesmen for the movement, and their religion-related publica­
tions have a presumption of being Orthodox. Similarly, certain
presses limit their outputs to what they perceive to be of O rtho­
dox interest and doctrine, and anything bearing their imprints
can be included in our discussion. But perhaps the most impor­
tant and lasting symbol of Orthodox publication is the
Haskamah
(approbation) of one of the few universally recognized Orthodox
halakhic authorities.4
Haskamot
are a long standing Jewish prac­
tice prized both by authors who wish their work to stand the test
of Orthodox censorship and by readers who rely on them for
guidance in conducting their religious lives. Books graced with
one or more such imprimaturs are undoubtedly to be included in
our survey.
Even given the limitations I have set, the range of materials
2 It would be interesting to examine the extent to which subtle acknowledgment
or rejection o f popularly accepted Orthodox notions plays a role in their writ­
ings. Also, the frequency (or lack thereof) with which Yeshiva University
assembles these scholars to learn from and contribute to their ideas is
potentially significant for understanding the roles o f both the university and
these professors in Orthodox scholarship. But all o f these things lie beyond
my present topic.
3 The Orthodoxy o f Blu Greenberg’s
On Women and Judaism
(Philadelphia,
1981) and a number o f books by Rabbi Louis Jacobs is often questioned, but
both claim to speak for the tradition, and I believe that their books should be
included. Hertz’s Commentary on the Torah is also seen as marginally Ortho­
dox by many who have rejected his attempt at compromise between tradition
and modernity, but in previous decades (as today) it was accepted as the
standard pew Bible by many Orthodox synagogues.
4 On the development o f this practice, see
EncyclopaediaJudaica,
s.v. Haskamah.