Special Issue

Religious Thought in Yiddish

Articles, translations, resources

This spe­cial issue of In geveb, edit­ed by Ariel Evan Mayse, Nao­mi Sei­d­man, Marc Caplan, and Daniel Reis­er, explores a range of the­o­log­i­cal, philo­soph­i­cal, and oth­er reli­gious themes as pre­sent­ed in a wide vari­ety of Yid­dish writ­ings. These arti­cles are meant to be sug­ges­tive and ini­tia­to­ry, rather than exhaus­tive, and we aim to intro­duce our read­ers to a wealth of impor­tant reli­gious texts expressed in Yid­dish over some three and a half cen­turies. Such Yid­dish works have regret­tably often gone unno­ticed by schol­ars of reli­gious thought and the­ol­o­gy, who, in fail­ing to take these sources seri­ous­ly, may fall prey to old stereo­types about Yid­dish as an impov­er­ished lan­guage of women and une­d­u­cat­ed mass­es. In pre­sent­ing these works, it is the goal of this spe­cial issue to demon­strate the ways in which the var­i­ous sub­fields of Yid­dish Stud­ies — from intel­lec­tu­al his­to­ry to philol­o­gy to lit­er­ary the­o­ry — are sig­nif­i­cant­ly enriched by an account of the var­ie­gat­ed world of reli­gious thought writ­ten in Yiddish. 





Kratsn in der linker peye: yidish, yidishkayt, un dos pintele yid: A special issue of In geveb on Religious Thought in Yiddish

Ariel Evan Mayse, Naomi Seidman, Marc Caplan and Daniel Reiser

An introduction from the editors of the special issue of In geveb on Religious Thought in Yiddish.


A Narrow Path: Language and Longing for a Holy Place that is Lost

Aviv Luban

For the nascent Polish Braslev Hasidic movement, the events of 1917 and their aftermath severed the group from its Holy Place: the grave of Reb Nakhmen in what is now Uman, Ukraine. This geopolitical reality elicited a unique literary and spiritual response in the form of an impassioned prayer, penned by Reb Yitskhok Brayter (c. 1886-1942), a leader of that community.


Man, Woman, and Serpent: Kabbalah and High Modernity in the Early Writings of Aaron Zeitlin

Nathan Wolski

This study presents a translation and analysis of Aaron Zeitlin’s 1924 essay, “Man, froy un shlang,” published in Illustrirte vokh.


A Linguistic Bridge Between Alienation and Intimacy: Chabad’s Theorization of Yiddish in Historical and Cultural Perspective

Eli Rubin

Yiddish has always been the oracular mainstay of Chabad’s intellectual and spiritual trajectory.


Yokhed ve-tsiber: Individual Expression and Communal Responsibility in a Yiddish Droshe by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Ariel Evan Mayse

Scholarship on Soloveitchik’s teachings has tended to focus exclusively on his Hebrew or English works rather than his Yiddish writings, but the present essay traces Soloveitchik’s style and exploring the nuances of intellectual legacy through the lens of an important Yiddish homily, a little-studied but critical essay called “Yokhed ve-tsiber” (“The Individual and the Collective”), an undated work was first delivered as a droshe (sermon) on his father’s yortsayt.


A Guide to the Ze’enah U-Re’enah: Correcting Some Misconceptions

Morris Faierstein

The most popular Yiddish book ever published gets its story right.


The Anarchist Sage/Der Goen Anarkhist: Rabbi Yankev-Meir Zalkind and Religious Genealogies of Anarchism

Anna Elena Torres

How can a political philosophy of anarchism emerge from Talmud study? Yankev Meir Zalkind, early twentieth-century Yiddishist, shows our readers how.