Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, or the Rav (translation: The Rabbi), as he is generally called by his students, was one of the greatest Jewish leaders and Torah scholars of the 20th century. He possessed many qualities of special relevance to people of our era, including the following:   



He spent enormous energy attempting to show the meaning and relevance of Torah to a 20th century Western audience.


He was a master of Talmud, Halacha, Bible, and Jewish philosophy. In addition, the Rav had a broad secular education, having earned a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Berlin.


He was a highly eloquent pedagogue, a riveting speaker, and a brilliant writer.  Not every genius is a great communicator. The Rav could communicate myriad aspects of Torah from intricate Talmudic logic to subtle philosophical ideas. Moreover, he was fluent in English.


The Rav loved his audience and relished the act of teaching.



This website is a collection of resources for study of the Rav’s life and teachings. You can find here books (over 70 of them), articles, sound recordings (hundreds of them), videos, photos, and links to works by the Rav, his students, and scholars of his work. The material is challenging and you may need a dictionary to get through some of it. But it is well worth the effort.


If you have material related to Rabbi Soloveitchik that you would like to disseminate please contact me. This can include notes, recordings, or your own completed writings or works in progress.



Click here to listen to The Rav's famous description (from 1974) of how    he experienced the Mesorah (Jewish Torah tradition) through the act of    teaching (    


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Includes video and audio of the Rav


Ship Manifests of the Rav's Immigration to the US and His Return from Eretz Israel in 1935



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New Publications/Media




Chumash Mesoras HaRav—Sefer Bereishis




Mesorat HaRav Chumash
Dr. Arnold Lustiger

The Rambam and the Rav  on the 54 Portions of the Torah

A Gathering and Analysis of the Writings of Maimonides and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik  on the Weekly Torah Readings.


by Rabbi Richard Borah

  Understanding the Lonely Man of Faith-  A Commentary and Guide to the Essay by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik






Article about arrival in the US in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1932






Mrs. Atara Twersky, the Rav's Daughter

Multiple Faces of the Rav

YU 20th Yarzheit





Collected by Dr. Arnold Lustiger

Posted with permission





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Sources for foregoing quotations:


(1) Partial transcript of an address  to the RCA Convention, 1975, on the topic of religious conversion. This is a preamble to the class.  Transcribed by Eitan Fiorino in, from mp3 Rav - Gerus & Mesorah (1) [5053].mp3 ) 

(2) Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, "Sacred and Profane", Gesher, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 7 in Besdin, A, Reflections of the Rav, p. 224) 

(3) Worship of the Heart: Essays on Jewish Prayer EDITED BY SHALOM CARMY, p. 66 in Prayer and the Beauty of God: Rav Soloveitchik on Prayer and Aesthetics (JOSHUA AMARU, The Torah u-Madda Journal (13/2005)

(4)Joseph B. Soloveitchik, “A Tribute to the Rebbetzen of Talne,” Tradition 17:2, Spring 1978, p. 7

(5)  Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Mesorat HaRav Siddur, p. 112-3


Photo on banner was taken by Rabbi Irwin Albert. *Posted with permission.

Rabbi Soloveitchik 
The Rav circa 1979
(Photo by Rabbi Irwin A. Albert*)

Teaching has a tremendous and very strange impact on me.  I simply feel that when I teach Torah, I feel the breath of  eternity on my face.

The error of modern representatives of religion is that they promise their congregants the solution to all the problems of life − an expectation which religion does not fulfill. Religion, on the contrary, deepens the problems but never intends to solve them. The grandeur of religion lies in its mysterium tremendum its magnitude and its ultimate incomprehensibility. To cite one example, we may adduce the problem of theodicy, the justification of evil in the world, that has tantalized the inquiring mind from time immemorial till this last tragic decade. The acuteness of this problem has grown for the religious person in essence and dimensions. When a minister, rabbi, or priest attempts to solve the ancient question of Job's suffering through as sermon or lecture, he does not promote religious ends, but, on the contrary, does them a disservice. The beauty of religion with its grandiose vistas reveals itself to men, not in solutions but in problems, not in harmony but in the constant conflict of diversified forces and trends.

The beauty of God is experienced as holiness, as the mysterium magnum, ineffable and unattainable, awesome and holy (nora ve-kadosh), as something that transcends everything comprehensible and speakable, which makes one tremble and experience bliss. Beauty and paradox merge—He is both remote and so near; awesome and lovely, fascinating and daunting, majestic and tender, comforting and frightening, familiar and alien, the beyond of creation and its very essence.

Most of all I learned [from his mother] that Judaism expresses itself not only in formal compliance with the law but also in a living experience. She taught me that there is a flavor, a scent and warmth to mitzvot. I learned from her the most important thing in life—to feel the presence of the Almighty and the gentle pressure of His hand resting upon my frail shoulders.

…the religious person is given not only a duty to follow the halakha but also a value and vision. The person performing the duty seeks to realize this ideal or vision. Kant felt that the duty of consciousness expresses only a "must" without a value. He demanded a routine form of compliance, an "ought" without aiming at a value. As a soldier carries out his duty to the commanding officer, one may appreciate his service or just obey through discipline and orders. Kant's ethics are a "formal ethics", the goal is not important.   For us it would be impossible to behave this way. An intelligent person must find comfort, warmth, and a sense of fulfillment in the law. We deal with ethical values, not ethical formalisms. A sense of pleasure must be gained by fulfilling a norm. The ethical act must have an end and purpose. We must become holy.

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