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What is the Open Access Project?

The Open Access Project is an experimental, cutting-edge plan for developing Torah scholarship. It utilizes interactive technology to bring people together to think about and refine ideas. This exciting new project can break down barriers and enable people–from different countries and very different backgrounds–to collaborate in a vital exchange of ideas. Join us as we unfurl our sails and test new waters.

Yashar Books searches the community of Torah thinkers for innovative insights that break new ground or take old topics and recast them from novel perspectives. Full articles (not just abstracts), essays, and sometimes even whole books, will be made available for free download on the Open Access webpage. We welcome you to submit your own papers, essays or dissertations for consideration of inclusion in the project. Think of it as a living, organic journal of Jewish scholarship.

As a new small publisher, we at Yashar Books see our mission as disseminators of ideas. In that spirit, we have decided to supplement–and circumvent–conventional marketing methods to give open access to Torah scholarship in new, exciting ways. The Open Access Project was created on the model of community involvement in the Open Source software movement and we look forward to your joining the community and spreading the word to others.


Become an Idea Ambassador

Ambassadors are the heart and soul of the Open Access Project. As an Ambassador you will spread word of the new contributions throughout the community by all the tools the Internet has to offer: IM, email, blog, website... plus such old fashioned methods as phone, fax and snail mail.

Anyone with Internet access can download Open Access contributions and then reprint and hand them out in class, pass them out in shul (synagogue) or fax them to friends. Anyone with email can forward the whole document or link to the free download. If you can find a new way to pass the word, we'd like to hear about it.

You, the reader, use the Open Access webpage as your research center. You ponder the issues and interactively pose questions and offer further insights to the online community. What is the weak link? Where did the author take a wrong step? What sources support the author's arguments? If you think the author is right, how can his idea explain other matters? This is your opportunity to review critically and to praise, to critique and to build, to take someone else's insight and – together – to make something that neither of you would have made on your own.


Your Own Research Center

We invite you to use the Open Access webpage as your personal research center. You ponder the issues and interactively pose questions and offer further insights to the online community. What is the weak link? Where did the author take a wrong step? What sources support the author's arguments?

If you think the author is right, how can his or her idea be applied to explain other matters? This is your opportunity to review critically and to praise, to critique and to build, to take someone else's insight and — together —to make something that neither of you would have made on your own.



Contribution, Collaboration, Creation...

Open Access

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Current Material




Most Recent
The Concise History of Anti-Semitism in Persia (PDF)
by Raphael Harris

Rabbi Raphael Harris documents the extensive history of Persian Jewry and the anti-semitism they faced throughout the ages.

Bigdeh Shesh: The Collected Writings of Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer (PDF)
by Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer

A collection of thoughtful essays on matters of Hashkafah (Jewish thought), Halachah (Jewish law), history and more by a unique Orthodox rabbi.

Etz Hayim and the Conservative Movement (PDF)
by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin reviews the Conservative Torah commentary Etz Hayim and examines its approach to peshat and halakhah (discussion here).

Do Not Ascend Like A Wall (PDF)
by Shlomo Aviner

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner collects the different views that defend the Religious Zionist principle of aliyah, moving to the Land of Israel. This essay was translated into English by Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig and Rabbi Aviner gave permission to disseminate it as far and wide as we can.

Other Material
Essays for Tishrei (PDF)
by David Jay Derovan

Following his popular haggadah that was posted to Open Access a year ago, Rabbi David Jay Derovan has penned some timely essays on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. This book, too, is available for free on Open Access.

Writing Midrash Avot (PDF)
by Gidon Rothstein

In Rabbi Gidon Rothstein's Harvard doctoral dissertation, titled Writing Midrash Avot, he analyzes commentaries to Pirkei Avot written in the fifteenth century and notes a distinct shift in approach — between peshat and derash methodologies — from earlier commentators.

Why Was the Second Temple Destroyed? (PDF)
by Yehuda Herzl Henkin

What types of communal ills led to the destruction of the holy Temples in Jerusalem? Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin explores this topic and offers his own unique approach to the subject. (Discussion here)

The Strength to Repent: A Theological View of the State of Israel (PDF)
by Yehuda Herzl Henkin

Of what religious meaning is the State of Israel? There are many answers to this question and Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin explores those views and offers his own unique approach to the subject. (Discussion here)

History versus Storytelling: From the Foreword of The Making of a Godol (PDF)
by Nathan Kamenetsky

How should Orthodox Jews tell history? Should we be revealing all, even the failings of the righteous, or should we focus on repeating inspiring stories? Rabbi Nathan Kamenetsky discusses both sides of this issue in the foreword to his controversial book, The Making of a Godol. (Discussion here)

You Shall Tell Your Son: Essays on Pesach and the Haggadah
by David Jay Derovan

This book is a collection of timely essays on Pesach and the Haggadah by Rabbi David Jay Derovan, posted in full to the web for the first time (Discussion here)

Halakhic Responses to Scientific Developments (PDF)
by Gil Student

What happens when science indicates that a Jewish law was based on an incorrect scientific premise? Do we reject the science? The halakhah? Or do we attempt to reconcile them at all costs? Rabbi Student reviews the literature on this subject and categorizes them into three main types of responses, with various underlying sub-categories. (Discussion here)

On the Limits of Non-Literal Interpretation of Scripture from an Orthodox Perspective (PDF)
by Joshua Golding

To what extent may one interpret the Torah non-literally? Are there certain passages that must be taken literally and, if so, how do we know which ones? What are the criteria for defining the parameters of what must be taken literally and what may be interpreted freely? Dr. Golding attempts to adduce guidelines by starting from first principles and building a framework to define these parameters. (Discussion here)

Conceiving the Other: Jewish Particularism and Universalism Revealed in the Noahide Laws (PDF)
by Gidon Rothstein

What does Judaism really say about the role of gentiles? What are their religious responsibilities vis-a-vis God? What directive does Judaism offer for those who want to benefit from its wisdom but choose not to be Jews? Is it an instinctive, natural law or more? Rabbi Rothstein reviews and critiques the existing theories on this subject and then offers an original and meaningful perspective. (Discussion here)



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Reprinted with permission from the Torah U-Madda Journal. Visit YU Torah for online lectures and articles.

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