Self-Awareness, Modernity and Holiness

I often point out the influence of Netziv’s Torah commentary among Torah writers today across the spectrum. One of the reasons for this was his unique ability to find what the Torah was saying to the Modern Jew.

In this week’s parsha, he picks up on the issue of individualism, something he discusses in several places, perhaps most famously in his discussion of the Tower of Bavel. Because it has always been clear that Judaism has a strongly communal element, many earlier commentators missed that the Torah nevertheless recognizes the unique needs and aptitudes of every individual. Living at the height of European Romanticism and on the cusp of Nietzsche’s writings – which both contributed to a new much more pronounced interest in the individual – Netziv surely intuited the need to address the legitimate aspects of trends making inroads upon his students. To read more at the Jewish Press, click here.

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