Passing of Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm

Shalom Berger's picture
H-Judaic joins in mourning the passing of Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm (1927-2020), the third president of Yeshiva University, a leading scholar of Modern Jewish Thought, and one of the foremost Jewish leaders of our time.  The Encyclopedia Judaica article on  Dr.Lamm is below.  See also the Wikipedia article, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Lamm ; the archive of his sermons and lectures, https://www.yu.edu/about/lamm-heritage/archives; and the comprehensive JTA obit by Uriel Heilman https://www.jta.org/2020/05/31/obituaries/rabbi-norman-lamm-longtime-head-of-yeshiva-university-and-prolific-author-dies-at-92.
 
From the Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd edition: 

LAMMNORMAN (1927–2020), Yeshiva University president, educator, and scholar. Born in Brooklyn, Lamm attended Mesivta Torah VoDaat yeshivah, and then Yeshiva College. He received rabbinical ordination at RIETS in 1951. In 1966 he received his Ph.D. from Yeshiva University and was on its faculty for 17 years. He also served as communal leader, first as assistant rabbi of New York City's Kehillath Jeshurun Synagogue, then as spiritual leader of Congregation Kadima in Springfield, Mass., and still later as spiritual leader of Manhattan's Jewish Center.

He was the founding editor of Tradition, the major journal of Orthodox thought, and also served as editor of "The Library of Jewish Law and Ethics."

When Yeshiva University president Samuel Belkin passed away in 1976 Lamm was elected to that position, which he held for 25 years. It was as head of Yeshiva University that he made a major impact on Jewish education in America. Lamm has been a strong proponent of the Torah u-Madda approach, of combining traditional Jewish learning with modern secular studies. He has been one of the foremost leaders of Modern or Centrist orthodoxy, between Conservative and Reform Judaism on the left, and ḥaredi Judaism on the right. For him, while living by halakhah is the heart of Jewish duty and life, religious coercion is unacceptable. Lamm was a supporter of the efforts to solve the "Who is a Jew?" problem. He has worked for unity between all streams of Judaism though strongly opposed the Reform decision to make patrilineal descent a criterion for defining Jewishness.

Lamm is one of the most important of modern Jewish thinkers and published ten books and many articles. Among the subjects Lamm has written about are the nature of Jewish and rabbinic leadership, man's position in the universe, the religious implications of extraterrestrial life, ecology in Jewish law and theology, and privacy in law and theology.

Lamm's tenure at Yeshiva was not without controversy. The university expanded greatly under his leadership. He set it on a firm economic foundation, increasing its endowment, enhancing the prestige of its graduate schools and medical school. The extreme right wing opposed his advocacy of Torah u-Madda and his position on conversion. From time to time, Rabbi Lamm was embarrassed by those who opposed the toleration of certain groups on campus, such as gay and lesbian organizations. Lamm's attacks on false piety and the excess emphasis on externals rather than true Jewish spirituality also won him opponents. In 1999 a group of rabbis broke away from Yeshiva. On the whole though he has been a consensus leader, one able to work successfully with other leaders.

After retiring as president of Yeshiva in 2001 he was appointed chancellor of the University. It was noted that the university could not find a leader who combined Rabbi Lamm's learning and secular academic achievement; so it bifurcated the role by having new president Richard Joel lead the University and Rabbi Lamm remain as chancellor and rosh yeshivah.  [Shalom Freedman (2nd ed.)]

Wikipedia provides the following list of Norman Lamm's publications:

Works by Lamm[edit]

  • 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 TraditionJason Aronson, 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 JudaismJewish Publication Society of America, 2000, ISBN 0-8276-0713-X.
  • Lamm's response to Noah Feldman'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, Maggid Books (a division of Koren Publishers Jerusalem), 2010 ISBN 978-1-59264-309-7.
  • 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[edit]

  • 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)
  • Bais Yitzchok, 1985: בדין לבישת בגדי כהונה שלא בשעת עבודה
  • HaPardes, March 1985: ברוך שם כבוד לעולם מלכותו ועד
  • Sermon anthology of the RCA Vol. 44 (1986): Notes of An Unrepentant Darshan
  • Sermon anthology of the RCA Vol. 44 (1986): There Is A Prophet in Israel
  • Sermon anthology of the RCA Vol. 44 (1986): The Leaning Jews of America
  • 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 שהרג את הנפש ועע"ז
  • HaPardes, May 1995: דין כהן שהרג את הנפש אם ומתי מותר לו לישא

We extend deepest condolences to Dr.Lamm's family, students and admirers around the world.

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JONATHAN D. SARNA
Chair H-Judaic
Categories: Obituary
Keywords: Necrology