The Book And The Sword: A Life Of Learning In The Shadow Of Destruction by David Weiss Halivni
The words of the Talmud were the universe for David Weiss Halivni during his childhood in Sighet, in the Carpathian Mountains. Before he was five he began his studies; by the time he was ten he had outgrown the town’s teachers and started to learn at home with his scholarly, impoverished grandfather. Even before his ordination at the age of fifteen, in 1943, he was famous for his erudition. But when the Nazis crushed the Jewish community of the Carpathians in 1944, he closed his Talmud. Halivni taught in the concentration camps and risked his life to save a scrap of paper from a sacred book. But adherence to the fundamentalist worldview that insists on reconciling every apparent contradiction in the text troubling to him even as a child had become impossible for him now. When he arrived in New York after the war, he began struggling toward the window” of secular learning. From that synthesis emerged his original approach to critical study of the Talmudic text not only in its modern printed form but as it was in its original form, the Oral Torah from the mouths of countless sages.
Year first published: 2019
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