Norman Lamm

Norman Lamm

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Norman Lamm (born December 19, 1927, in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

) is a major American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Modern Orthodox
Modern Orthodox Judaism
Modern Orthodox Judaism is a movement within Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize Jewish values and the observance of Jewish law, with the secular, modern world....

 rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

, scholar, author and Jewish communal leader. He is presently the Chancellor of Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University is a private university in New York City, with six campuses in New York and one in Israel. Founded in 1886, it is a research university ranked as 45th in the US among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2012...

.

He holds a Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in Jewish Philosophy
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

 and was the third President of Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University is a private university in New York City, with six campuses in New York and one in Israel. Founded in 1886, it is a research university ranked as 45th in the US among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2012...

 (YU), the first to be born in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. He was a disciple of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (Modern Orthodoxy's most influential scholar), who ordained
Semicha
, also , or is derived from a Hebrew word which means to "rely on" or "to be authorized". It generally refers to the ordination of a rabbi within Judaism. In this sense it is the "transmission" of rabbinic authority to give advice or judgment in Jewish law...

 him at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary
Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary
Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary , or Yeshivat Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan, is the rabbinical seminary of Yeshiva University, located in Washington Heights, New York. It is named after Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor, who died the year it was founded, 1896...

 (RIETS, the YU rabbinical school) in 1951.

Youth


In his youth, Lamm attended the Haredi Mesivta
Mesivta
Mesivta is an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva high school for boys. The term is commonly used in the United States to describe a yeshiva that emphasizes Talmudic studies for boys in grades 9 through 11 or 12; alternately, it refers to the religious studies track in a yeshiva high school that offers both...

Torah Vodaath in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

. At Yeshiva College (YC, the men's undergraduate school of YU) he obtained a degree in chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 in 1949, at which he excelled. He was the secular studies valedictorian of his class. He also attended a secular postgraduate college, the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. He considered a career in science, but was persuaded by Rabbi Dr. Samuel Belkin
Samuel Belkin
Rabbi Samuel Belkin is best known as the second University President of Yeshiva University. A distinguished Torah scholar, he is credited with leading Yeshiva University through a period of substantial expansion .-Biography:...

, the second President of Yeshiva University (successor of Rabbi Dr. Bernard Revel
Bernard Revel
Bernard Revel was an Orthodox rabbi and scholar. He served as the first President of Yeshiva College from 1915 until his death in 1940...

), to join the faculty at YU.

Lamm's grandfather was Rabbi Yeshoshua Baumol (1880–1948) who authored the Responsa - Emek Halakha. In that work, Rabbi Baumol cited several insights from his young grandson, and even included responsa to Lamm's questions.

Career


Lamm spent 25 years as a pulpit rabbi. He was appointed rabbi of the West Side Jewish Center
Congregation Beth Israel West Side Jewish Center
-References:*American Hebrew and Jewish Messenger, American Hebrew Publishing Corporation, Volume 147, Issue 2, 1940.*American Jewish Committee. , American Jewish Year Book, Jewish Publication Society, Volume 21 .*. Retrieved October 17, 2010....

 (Congregation Beth Israel) in 1952, became assistant rabbi at the Jewish Center on the Upper West Side
Upper West Side
The Upper West Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, that lies between Central Park and the Hudson River and between West 59th Street and West 125th Street...

 of Manhattan in 1958, then rabbi of the Jewish Center from 1959 to 1976.

He obtained his Ph.D. in 1966, and was elected President of Yeshiva University in August, 1976. When he took over the institution he helped save it from looming bankruptcy
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

 and raised its endowments as well as its academic rating.

Theology


As a Modern Orthodox Jew, Lamm's theology somewhat resembles the corpus of classical rabbinic Jewish principles of faith
Jewish principles of faith
The concept of an explicit, paramount definition of faith does not exist in Judaism as it does in other monotheistic religions such as Christianity. Although Jews and religious leaders share a core of monotheistic principles, and there are many fundamental principles quoted in the Talmud to define...

. The faith that he preaches and teaches is consistent with these teachings. He believes that God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 exists, that God can reveal his will to mankind
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

, and that the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 (five books of Moses) is an exact transcription of God's revelation to Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 on Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai , also known as Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gabal Musa , Jabal Musa meaning "Moses' Mountain", is a mountain near Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. A mountain called Mount Sinai is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah and the Bible as well as the Quran...

. As an Orthodox Jew, he believes that Judaism's oral law
Oral law
An oral law is a code of conduct in use in a given culture, religion or community application, by which a body of rules of human behaviour is transmitted by oral tradition and effectively respected, or the single rule that is orally transmitted....

, as recorded in the Mishnah
Mishnah
The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

 and Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, represents an accurate and authoritative understanding of how God wants mankind to understand the Hebrew Bible
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

. In accordance with standard Orthodox Jewish theology, he holds that halakha
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

, loosely translated as "Jewish law", is normative and binding on all Jews.

Torah Umadda


Lamm's major contribution is as a proponent of the idea of "Torah Umadda
Torah Umadda
Torah Umadda is a philosophy of Modern Orthodox Judaism, concerning the interrelationship between the secular world and Judaism, and in particular between secular knowledge and Jewish knowledge...

" - "Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and modern culture, or more generally, the environing culture of our days" - a philosophical paradigm
Paradigm
The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

 which aims at the confrontation of Torah learning and secular knowledge. He argues that the underlying philosophy of Torah Umadda can be traced back to the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 and to Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 and that it is inspired by the work of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
Samson Raphael Hirsch
Samson Raphael Hirsch was a German rabbi best known as the intellectual founder of the Torah im Derech Eretz school of contemporary Orthodox Judaism...

 in the mid 19th century in response to the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

. He states that Torah Umadda and Hirsch's Torah im Derech Eretz
Torah im Derech Eretz
Torah im Derech Eretz is a philosophy of Orthodox Judaism articulated by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch , which formalizes a relationship between traditionally observant Judaism and the modern world...

 are to a large extent complementary - both value the acquisition of secular knowledge and both demand adherence to halakha
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

.

Centrist Orthodoxy


Lamm is a well known voice of "Modern Orthodoxy
Modern Orthodox Judaism
Modern Orthodox Judaism is a movement within Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize Jewish values and the observance of Jewish law, with the secular, modern world....

" (which is also known as Centrist Orthodoxy), regarding itself as the "center" between the "left wing" branches of Orthodox Judaism, such as Rabbi Avi Weiss
Avi Weiss
Avraham Weiss is an American Modern Orthodox rabbi who heads the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in The Bronx, New York. He is an author, teacher, lecturer, and activist...

's "Open Orthodoxy," and the movements of the "right wing" such as Haredi Judaism
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

. (Some writers have suggested a difference between the two terms "Modern" and "Centrist" Judaism—something Lamm dismisses as artificial.)

Relationship with non-Orthodox Judaism


Lamm is a strong critic of Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

's attempt to unilaterally redefine Jewishness. In response to their declaration that a person can be considered Jewish with only a Jewish father, and not a Jewish mother, Lamm stated that this was "The single most irresponsible act in contemporary Jewish history." (Landau, p. 292) Nonetheless, he has worked over the years to keep lines of communication open between Orthodox and Reform Judaism, in the hopes that Jewish unity can be maintained. Lamm was a proponent of working with Reform and Conservative Judaism in the now-defunct Synagogue Council of America
Synagogue Council of America
The Synagogue Council of America was an organization of American Jewish synagogue associations, founded in 1926, including :*The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America *The Rabbinical Council of America...

.

In a lecture before Klal, a “mixed” group of rabbis, he maintained that non-Orthodox rabbis are “valid” spiritual leaders of their congregants, whereas the Orthodox are “legitimate” religious leaders. “Valid” comes from the Latin word validus which means powerful, strong–and they are certainly strong and influential Jewish leaders who should be respected for their efforts. But only Orthodox rabbis can lay claim to “legitimacy,” a word which derives from lex, law. Only one committed fully to the halakha can be considered Jewishly legitimate as a rabbi.

While strongly disagreeing with the theology and religious practices of non-Orthodox forms of Judaism, Lamm has been one of the most outspoken leaders in Orthodoxy for cooperation with Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

 and Reform Judaism.
In 1989 and 1990 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir
Yitzhak Shamir
' is a former Israeli politician, the seventh Prime Minister of Israel, in 1983–84 and 1986–92.-Biography:Icchak Jeziernicky was born in Ruzhany , Russian Empire . He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement...

 asked Lamm to help defuse the crisis related to the "Who is a Jew?" issue, which had erupted when a Reform convert wanted to make aliyah
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

 (emigration to the State of Israel). Lamm devised a solution for the denominational crisis which required delicate diplomacy as well as good will on all sides. In response to Lamm, Shamir appointed Israeli Cabinet Secretary Elyakim Rubenstein, later a member of the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Israel
The Supreme Court is at the head of the court system and highest judicial instance in Israel. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem.The area of its jurisdiction is all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. A ruling of the Supreme Court is binding upon every court, other than the Supreme...

, who negotiated secretly for many months with rabbis from Conservative, Reform and Orthodox Judaism, including faculty at Yeshiva University, with Lamm as Rosh ha-Yeshiva. The plan called for the creation of a joint panel that interviewed people who were converting to Judaism and considering making aliyah, and would refer them to a beit din (rabbinic court of Judaism) that would convert the candidate following traditional halakha.

All negotiating parties came to agreement: (1) Conversions must be carried out according to halakha, (2) the beit din overseeing the conversion would be Orthodox, perhaps appointed by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and (3) there would be a committee consisting of representatives of all three groups to interview potential converts as to their sincerity. Many Reform rabbis took offense at the notion that the beit din must be strictly halakhic and Orthodox, but they acquiesced. However, when word about this project became public, a number of leading Haredi rabbis issued a statement denouncing the project, condemning it as a "travesty of halakha". Rabbi Moshe Sherer
Moshe Sherer
Rabbi Moshe Sherer was co-Chairman of the Agudath Israel World Organization from 1980, and the Chairman of Agudath Israel of America from the 1960s, until his death in 1998....

, then the Chairman of Agudath Israel World Organization
World Agudath Israel
World Agudath Israel , usually known as the Aguda, was established in the early twentieth century as the political arm of Ashkenazi Torah Judaism, in succession to Agudas Shlumei Emunei Yisroel...

, stated that "Yes, we played a role in putting an end to that farce, and I'm proud we did.,”(Landau, p. 320) Lamm condemned this interference by Sherer, stating that this was "the most damaging thing that he [Sherer] ever did in his brilliant forty year career."

Lamm wanted this to be only the beginning of a solution to Jewish disunity. He stated that had this unified conversion plan not been destroyed, he wanted to extend this program to the area of halakhic Jewish divorces, thus ending the problem of mamzer
Mamzer
The Hebrew noun mamzer in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish religious law, is a person born from certain forbidden relationships, or the descendant of such a person. A mamzer is someone who is either born of adultery by a married woman, or born of incest , or someone who has a mamzer as a parent...

ut. (Landau, p. 320)

In 1997 the issue of "Who is a Jew?" again arose in the State of Israel, and Lamm publicly backed the Neeman commission, a group of Orthodox, Masorti
Masorti
The Masorti Movement is the name given to Conservative Judaism in Israel and other countries outside Canada and U.S. Masorti means "traditional" in Hebrew...

 (Conservative) and Progressive
Progressive Judaism
Progressive Judaism , is an umbrella term used by strands of Judaism which affiliate to the World Union for Progressive Judaism. They embrace pluralism, modernity, equality and social justice as core values and believe that such values are consistent with a committed Jewish life...

 (Reform) rabbis working to develop joint programs for conversion to Judaism. In 1997 he gave a speech at the World Council of Orthodox Leadership, in Glen Springs, N.Y., urging Orthodox Jews to support this effort.
Rabbi Lamm told his listeners that they should value and encourage the efforts of non-Orthodox leaders to more seriously integrate traditional Jewish practices into the lives of their followers. They should welcome the creation of Reform and Conservative day schools and not see them as a threat to their own. In many communities, Orthodox day schools, or Orthodox-oriented community day schools, have large numbers of students from non-Orthodox families. The liberal movements should be appreciated and encouraged because they are doing something Jewish, even if it is not the way that Orthodox Jews would like them to. Lamm stated that "What they are doing is something, and something is better than nothing". In an interview, Lamm said "I'm very openly attacking the notion that we sometimes find in the Orthodox community that “being a goy
Goy
is a Hebrew biblical term for "nation". By Roman times it had also acquired the meaning of "non-Jew". The latter is also its meaning in Yiddish.-In Biblical Hebrew:...

” is better than being a non-Orthodox Jew". (Cohen, 1997)


In his speech Seventy Faces Lamm warns his listeners that there will be an "unbridgeable and cataclysmic rupture within the Jewish community" unless Jews from all the denominations, including Orthodoxy, listen to each other and try and find a way to work together. In this speech (now an essay) he rejects maximal ideas of religious pluralism
Religious pluralism
Religious pluralism is a loosely defined expression concerning acceptance of various religions, and is used in a number of related ways:* As the name of the worldview according to which one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus that at least some truths and true values...

, especially relativism
Relativism
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration....

. He denies that non-Orthodox Jews have halakhic legitimacy, explaining that their views on halakha do not have normative status. However he goes on to affirm a moderate form of religious pluralism, and holds that Orthodox Jews must accept that non-Orthodox rabbis are valid Jewish leaders, and possess spiritual dignity. He holds that marriages that are officiated at by non-Orthodox Jews can be halakhically valid, but not so non-Orthodox divorces. Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews must find ways to work together.

Views on abiogenesis, evolution and science


Originally trained as a scientist, Lamm has maintained an interest in the interface between science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and Judaism. In his 1971 essay The Religious Implications of Extra-Terrestrial Life, Lamm writes about scientific developments concerning abiogenesis
Abiogenesis
Abiogenesis or biopoesis is the study of how biological life arises from inorganic matter through natural processes, and the method by which life on Earth arose...

 and evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, the creation of life on Earth, and the then developing scientific consensus that life could possibly evolve on other planets outside of our solar system
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

 (i.e. extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

. He writes
...the fact remains that most of the highly respected scientists of our day, eminent in their fields, do believe that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe....No religious position is loyally served by refusing to consider annoying theories which may well turn out to be facts. Torah is "a Torah of truth," and to hide from the facts is to distort that truth into a myth. Of course, it must be repeated that the theories here under discussion have not (yet) been established as true. But they may be: and Judaism will then have to confront them as it has confronted what men have considered the truth throughout the generations.

Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

, over eight centuries ago, was faced with the widely accepted Aristotelian theory of the eternity of the universe, which ostensibly contradicted the Biblical conception of creation in time. Maimonides demonstrated that Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 had not conclusively proved the eternity of matter, and that since eternity and creation were philosophically equally acceptable alternatives, he preferred to accept creation since this theory was the one apparently taught in Genesis. Nevertheless, Maimonides averred, were the Aristotelian theory convincingly proven, he would have accepted it and reinterpreted the verses in Genesis to accommodate the theory of the eternity of matter.

It is this kind of position which honest men, particularly honest believers in God and Torah, must adopt at all times, and especially in our times. Conventional dogmas, even if endowed with the authority of an Aristotle - ancient or modern - must be tested vigorously. If they are found wanting, we need not bother with them. But if they are found to be substantially correct, we may not overlook them. We must then use the newly discovered truths the better to truly understand our Torah - the "Torah of truth."


Lamm's writings on this subject are prominently featured in the "What Is Out There?" featurette, on disk two of the two disk special edition of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This featurette offers the views of various scientists and philosophers on the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Writings


In 1971 Lamm wrote Faith and Doubt: Studies in Traditional Jewish Thought, which was released in a second edition in 1986 and a third and up-dated edition in 2006. This book is a personal examination of his religious beliefs.

In the 1980s many in Modern Orthodox Judaism felt battered by criticism from Orthodoxy's theological right-wing. Many Orthodox Jews, notably HaRav Nissim Cahn, began to perceive Modern Orthodoxy as less compelling, and possibly less authentic, than Haredi Judaism
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

. As such, Lamm wrote a principled theological defense of Modern Orthodoxy in Torah Umadda: The Encounter of Religious Learning and Worldly Knowledge in the Jewish Tradition and its theology of Torah in confrontation with Madda or “Western Civilization”.

In 1999 Lamm wrote The Religious Thought of Hasidism: Text and Commentary, in which he offered an in-depth history of Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

, the spiritual movement founded in the 18th century by Israel ben Eliezer, better known as the Baal Shem Tov. Through examination of primary sources, Lamm illustrates the development of Hasidic theology, from the 18th to the 20th century.

In 2000 Lamm wrote The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism for a general audience not familiar with Jewish theology; this work focused on how a proper understanding of Judaism would lead a practitioner to spirituality. This work was a rejoinder to the viewpoint that religious, observant Judaism was dry and legal, as opposed to spiritual and meaningful.

In addition to these, Lamm wrote many essays on contemporary Jewish issues which were published in the journals Tradition and the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society.

Lamm's brother, Rabbi Maurice Lamm is also a well known rabbi, writer and organizer.

Retirement


Lamm stepped down as President in 2003, and was succeeded by Richard Joel, who became the fourth President of YU and the first layman to hold the office. Joel is a former attorney
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 who also led the Bnai Brith's international Hillel student organization. Richard Joel had previously been associate dean
Dean (education)
In academic administration, a dean is a person with significant authority over a specific academic unit, or over a specific area of concern, or both...

 and professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 at YU's Cardozo Law School and was an assistant district attorney
District attorney
In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney is an elected or appointed government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the jurisdiction's legal department and supervises a staff of...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

.

Lamm was given the active position of Chancellor of YU after 27 years as President. He still maintains his title as Rosh HaYeshiva ("head of the yeshiva") of YU's rabbinical school - RIETS. He was installed in the new position created for him as Chancellor of Yeshiva University in June 2003. He continues to play a role in the affairs of the institution over which he presided for a quarter century.

Works by Lamm

  • Menachem Mendel Kasher, Norman Lamm, Leonard Rosenfeld (Editors). Leo Jung Jubilee Volume Essays in Honor on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday. N.Y.: The Jewish Center Synagogue, 1962.

  • Norman Lamm, The Royal Reach, (Feldheim, 1970)

  • Norman Lamm, A Hedge of Roses: Jewish Insights Into Marriage, (Feldheim, 1977)

  • Norman Lamm The Religious Implications of Extra-Terrestrial Life, Chapter 5 of Faith and Doubt - Studies in Traditional Jewish Thought, (New York, Ktav, 1971)

  • "תורה לשמה במשנת ר חיים מוולוזין ובמחשבת הדור" Mossad Horav Kuk, Jerusalem, 1971

  • Norman Lamm, Faith and Doubt: Studies in Traditional Jewish Thought, Ktav; 2nd edition 1986, ISBN 0-88125-000-7; 3rd Augmented Edition,2006.

  • Norman Lamm, Seventy Faces: Divided we stand, but its time to try an idea that might help us stand taller, Moment Vol. II, No. 6, June 1986 - Sivan 5746

  • Norman Lamm, Torah Lishmah: Torah for Torah's Sake : In the Works of Rabbi Hayyim of Volozhin and His Contemporaries, (Ktav, 1989

  • Norman Lamm, Torah Umadda: The Encounter of Religious Learning and Worldly Knowledge in the Jewish Tradition, Jason Aronson
    Jason Aronson
    Jason Aronson is an American publisher of books in the field of psychotherapy. Topics dealt with in these books include child therapy, family therapy, couple therapy, object relations therapy, play therapy, depression, eating disorders, personality disorders, substance abuse, sexual abuse, stress,...

    , 1990 ISBN 0-87668-810-5

  • Norman Lamm, 'Halakhot Va-halikhot', Mosad ha-Rav Kuk, 1990

  • Norman Lamm, The Religious Thought of Hasidism: Text and Commentary, Michael Scharf Publication Trust of Yeshiva University, 1999, ISBN 0-88125-440-1

  • Norman Lamm, The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism, Jewish Publication Society of America
    Jewish Publication Society of America
    The Jewish Publication Society , originally known as the Jewish Publication Society of America, is the oldest nonprofit, nondenominational publisher of Jewish works in English...

    , 2000, ISBN 0-8276-0713-X

  • Lamm's response to Noah Feldman
    Noah Feldman
    Noah Feldman is an American author and professor of law at Harvard Law School.-Education and career:Feldman grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, where he attended the Maimonides School....

    's July 22, 2007 New York Times Magazine essay "Orthodox Paradox" was published on August 2, 2007. Lamm's article, "A Response to Noah Feldman," was published at the website: http://www.forward.com/articles/11308/

  • Norman Lamm, Torah Umadda: The Encounter of Religious Learning and Worldly Knowledge in the Jewish Tradition, 20th Anniversary Edition with a New Preface and an Afterword by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
    Jonathan Sacks
    Jonathan Henry Sacks, Baron Sacks, Kt is the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. His Hebrew name is Yaakov Zvi...

    , Maggid Books (a division of Koren Publishers Jerusalem
    Koren Publishers Jerusalem
    Koren Publishers Jerusalem is an Israeli publisher of Jewish religious texts. It was established in 1961 by Eliyahu Koren, with the aim of publishing the first Hebrew Bible designed, edited, printed, and bound by Jews in nearly 500 years...

    ), 2010 ISBN 978-159-264-3097

  • Norman Lamm, "The Royal Table: A Passover Haggadah", (OU Press, New York, 2010) ISBN 978-1-60280-139-4

  • Norman Lamm, "Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays", (Ou Press & Yeshiva University Press, New York, 2011) ISBN 978-1-60280-174-5

Articles by Lamm

  • HaPardes, No. 28, Vol. 11 August 1954: בדין מצות עשה להתפלל בכל יום

  • HaDarom, No. 23 1966: הערה לענין תשעה-באב בימי בית שני

  • HaDarom, No. 32 : בענין מצות קידוש

  • HaPardes, November 1977: ברירה ורשות

  • HaPardes, October 1983: דיני ממונות בשלשה

  • HaPardes, No. 58 Vol. 5 February 1984: החסיד המעולה וראש הישיבה (Eulogy for Rabbi Yerucham Gorelick
    Yerucham Gorelick
    Yerucham Gorelick was a distinguished Rosh yeshiva in the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary for forty years .- Europe :...

    )

  • Bais Yitzchok, 1985: בדין לבישת בגדי כהונה שלא בשעת עבודה

  • HaPardes, March 1985: ברוך שם כבוד לעולם מלכותו ועד

  • HaPardes, May 1986: לענין ספירת העומר

  • Bais Yitzchok, 1987: קריאת שם הולד על שם אדם חי

  • HaPardes, May 1987: אין קידוש אלא במקום סעודה

  • HaPardes, April 1988: צדקה וחסד

  • HaPardes, July 1992: כעס בהלכה ובמוסד היהדות

  • HaPardes, November 1993: הכרת הטוב בהלכה

  • HaPardes, June 1994: מודה במקצת הטענה ישבע

  • HaPardes, April 1995: כהן בעל תשובה שהרב את הנפש ועע"ז

  • HaPardes, May 1995: דין כהן שהרג את הנפש אם ומתי מותר לו לישא

Works relating to Lamm

  • Debra Nussbaum Cohen, Orthodox leader speaks out on Jewish unity, breaking long silence, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, December 5, 1997

  • David Landau Piety & Power, 1993, Hill & Wang, NY

Recorded Talks


External links