The Religious Implications of an Historical Approach to Limmudei Kodesh
by Rachel Furst
Rachel Furst is a Bruria Scholar at Midreshet Lindenbaum and is working on the Friedberg Geniza Project at the National Library. She is currently registered in a graduate program in Medieval Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Are scientific historical scholarship and traditional Torah study reconcilable? Does knowledge of history enhance appreciation of the overarching halakhic system or does it undermine it? Can the study of history contribute in any way to the religious endeavor? These questions have been debated since the founding of the “Science of Judaism” movement in nineteenth-century Germany but are of particular relevance to the contemporary Modern Orthodox community which defines Torat Emet as encompassing both historical, scientific truth and the truth of mesorah. This project will examine the religious implications of an approach to limmudei kodesh—primarily the study of Talmud and halakhah—that integrates academic scholarship with traditional Torah study and will evaluate the educational pros and cons of a curriculum built on such a synthesis.