Friday, November 18, 2011

A Note from Menachem Kellner

I received this e-mail yesterday from Menachem Kellner. I am posting it here with his permission.

Subject: two new books

Shalom, one and all.

Two new and very different books reached me this week:

1) Hannah Kasher, Al ha-Minim, ha-Epikorsim ve-haKofrim bi-Mishnat ha-Rambam (Tel Aviv: Ha-Kibbutz ha-Meuhad, in the series: 'Sifriyat Hillel Ben-Haim'). Hannah is a past master of close readings of Maimonidean texts and this 200-page book unpacks the implications of Hilkhot Teshuvah III.6-8. I read an earlier version of this book and recommend it highly and look forward to studying this final version.

2) Yizhak Sheilat, Bein ha-Kuzari la-Rambam (available through the website of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe in Ma'aled Adumim). Rabbi Sheilat has been putting the world of Rambam studies in his debt through his editions and tranlsations of many of Rambam's Arabic texts. In his notes to these editions he has consistently engaged in what might be called a moderate attempt to 'Halevi-ize' Rambam. I therefore approached this book with a certain amount of trepidation. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that while R. Sheilat certainly seeks to transpose Rambam into an Halevian key (anyone familiar with my book, Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism, will know how unsympathetic to that approach -- as I trust, would be Rambam himself), he does so in an 'upfront' and remarkably moderate fashion. For a book which in my estimation is fundamentally wrong-headed, it is very well done and worthy of study.

Professor Menachem Kellner
Dept. of Jewish History and Thought, University of Haifa
Senior Fellow, Institute for Philosophy, Political Theory and Religion, Shalem Center, Jerusalem