Mr. Hershkowitz writes, “My main area of research, rabbinic theological and sociological responses to the Shoah, has been reviewed (by Greenberg, Schindler, Polen, Farbstein, etc.), yet I feel it has not been appreciated enough by theological and moral researchers of the Shoah. Rarely can one find a rabbinic outlook cited as a legitimate moral source or reference in dealing with the horrors or with the ethical conclusions they impose on humanity. Allowing the massive rabbinic literature of the Shoah to articulate its unique voice within the general discourse of the Shoah’s spiritual and humanitarian voices is one of my goals. I feel it is my obligation and mission to use my skills in order to promote these goals.
“One text that had an enormous effect on my decision to conduct Holocaust research is Esh Kodesh (“Holy Fire”), by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira. This monumental book is not only one of the deepest theological documents dealing with the question of the solidity of evil ever to be written, but it is also one of the most important existential treatises that confronted the religious experience in extreme situations. I found myself enchanted by this book’s moral spinal cord, and by the author’s ability to disengage from the horrors surrounding him for precious moments of enlightenment. This broad diversity of philosophical aspects persuaded me to analyze Esh Kodesh, which I approached with fear and trepidation. My M.A. thesis’ title was: “Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, The Piasechner Rebbe: His Holocaust and Pre-Holocaust Thought, Continuity or Discontinuity?”. I dealt only with his concepts of human suffering, and much is left to observe and conclude. I dream of submitting the academic world a comprehensive work on Rav Shapira’s philosophical, existential and educational theories, and thus to revelate his extraordinary prominence.
“In addition to my academic endeavors, I officiate as a rabbi of an Orthodox religious-Zionist congregation in Petach Tikvah, Israel, called Nezach Shlomo. I believe my rabbinic experience guides my path in the academic study of rabbinic sources, and it enriches my scope of interests and aims.”
Dr. Hershkowitz is a professor at Bar Ilan University in the Jewish Philosophy department.