The Lonely Man of Faith
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The Lonely Man of Faith

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  214 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the rabbi known as “The Rav” by his followers worldwide, was a leading authority on the meaning of Jewish law and prominent force in building bridges between traditional Orthodox Judaism and the modern world. In The Lonely Man of Faith, a soaring, eloquent essay first published in Tradition magazine in 1965, Soloveitchik investigates the essential l...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 16th 2006 by Image (first published 1992)
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This is my first ever reading experience with the Rav, which is actually surprising to me. Nonetheless, the experience was enriching. While I don't necessarily agree with a fine heap of his finer points, the educated clarity is refreshing. I always say that books should make me reach for a dictionary. This one certainly did, especially for fascinating latin phrases.

The book opens with an eloquent d'var torah, which serves as the basis for the entire book's message, which is: we must be engaged i...more
Rabbi Soloveitchik's The Lonely Man of Faith is awe-inspiring and inspirational. I don't believe that Soloveitchik intended it as inspiration - he frames his essay as a discussion of a feeling that he himself has, and that he believes others may have as well: the loneliness experienced as a person engaged in a covenantal lifestyle rather than a utilitarian one.

He lays out the difference between a covenantal approach to God and a religious one - that is to say that the former is ineffable while t...more
Robin Friedman
First published in 1965 in the Orthodox Jewish Journal, "Tradition", Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik's essay, "The Lonely Man of Faith" has become a much-studied exploration of the nature of religious life. Soloveitchick (1903 -- 1993) is widely regarded as the intellectual leader of Jewish Orthodoxy in the United States. He was born into a family of rabbis and in 1931 received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Berlin. In 1932, he moved to Boston where he lived for the remainder of his life...more
I saw a TED talk by David Brooks on living for your resume or your eulogy, and he mentioned this work by Soloveitchik. This is a pretty good essay on the difference between two sides of us: Adam 1 and Adam 2. Adam 1 is described in Genesis 1:
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them. And God blessed them and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, ove...more
Camilla Sofia
when i read this book, i was blown away by Soloveitchik's insight into the nature of man and woman and our relationship to God. his concept of Adam One and Adam Two was profound and made clear many of my own frustrations and confusions regarding my faith. a must-read for anyone struggling with faith, with God, with loneliness.
Oron Propp
Though a somewhat harsh characterization of the believer's existential status, Soloveitchik here aptly delineates the tensions (both internal and external) inherent in the (specifically contemporary) "man of faith." A timeless and almost universally applicable read, exigent and evocative both intellectually and emotionally, and utterly consummate exegetically (although at times slightly abstruse in its vocabulary and nomenclature—but delightfully so). Guaranteed to provoke extensive religious ru...more
Very powerful and thought provoking.
Simcha Wood
Almost 50 years after its appearance in the Summer 1965 issue of Tradition, Rabbi Soloveitchik's The Lonely Man of Faith remains a timely meditation on the dueling natures of man as agent of dominance, driven to knowledge and mastery of the world, and man as subservient and surrendering to the covenantal relationship with G-d (a concept which dovetails nicely with Rabbi Eliezer Berkovitz's thoughts on the distinction between what he calls faith history and power history, the implications of whic...more
Ben Mcfarland
Oh me of little faith ... I was mildly embarrassed to be checking this book out (never mind that I had no idea who the person at the desk even was!) because it was kind of like saying "I'm lonely." When in a way that's exactly what the author, Joseph Soloveitchik, intended. He writes about the two different creation stories in Genesis, how they describe the creation of two different Adams: the first Adam and the second Adam, both of which are contained in each of us. Deftly moving from the Scrip...more
Adam Jacobson
I'm curious what a mainline Christian interested in theology would think of this book. As I write my review, prompted as Goodreads recommended this for me, I realize that my reactions to the book seem to be more a reflection of my own religious journey that the worth of the book itself or of its argument.

That said, when I first read this 20+ years ago in my newly religious stage, I thought it quite impressive and would have probably given it five stars. At the time I was in a nominally "modern"...more
Mike Garner
The Jewish Rabbis bring to the Old Testament readings that have a long history and often surprise a person like me trained in hermeneutics by the Christian church. Long ago I realized that 'the teaching' is always determinate for measuring the value of a scriptural theological reading. The teaching of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik is in my estimation wonderfully adaptive to life and rooted in interpretive practices that precede my own interpretive readings of the two creation accounts. The Rabbis' u...more
Daphna Heisler
I think Soloveitchik's introduction is incredibly strong. I also really appreciated his interpretation as to why the Old Testament has two different stories of creation. However, half-way in, the book lost me and I felt like I was reading for completion's sake.

To Soloveitchik's credit, the following has become one of my all-time favorite book quotes: "All I want is to follow the advice given by Elihu the son of Berachel of old, who said, 'I will speak that I may find relief;' for there is a rede...more
Sasha Sapp
I enjoyed this very much. The perspective and position of the man of faith in today's society an interesting one.
Jonah Kruvant
One of the most difficult reads I've had in a long time. Dense, high vocabulary, and abstract concepts make this a tough one to get through. The concept of Adam I and Adam II, however, is brilliant, and Soloveitchik is one of the essential Jewish philosophers and writers of our time. Think the Rabbi Akivah of the 20th century. In addition, the last fifteen pages hit the key points in an accessible fashion and are genius.
Andrew Pessin
Just revisited this quite amazing book.
Sara Cat
Had some excellent points, I think I might have wanted to start with a different work by him. I will upload some of the quotes later. Essentially, well written, and again challenges the idea that faith should ever be comfortable, and that when the point is to "make people happier" - it's consumerism, not faith.
i have to admit, i really liked the introduction but didn't really get much of the rest of the book. and i even took a class in it.....
Jeremy Tibbetts
Interesting read. Don't necessarily agree with his conclusions but very well written and brings up interesting points
book threw my brain for a loop.
Kate W
fascinating reflection
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Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik (1903-1993)

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was born into a family already known for its great Torah learning. His grandfather and father, emphasized a thorough analysis of Talmud, and it is in this way that Rav Soloveitchik studied and taught his own students. He was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Berlin, and then settled in Boston in the early 1930’s. He became...more
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