The divine instructions relating to the building and the architecture of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) are laid out in great detail; not even the smallest nuance is excluded, and nothing is left to human imagination. Preciseness stands out, and every pin and string is mentioned. This is in total opposition to the spiritual condition and devotion required of every Israelite when helping to erect the Mishkan, which called for personal input, creativity and inspiration. How do we reconcile these contradictions: formality versus spontaneity; total commitment to the letter of the law versus unprecedented emotional outbursts of religious devotion? Are such notions not mutually exclusive and irreconcilable?
Nathan Lopes Cardozo
Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo is the Founder and Dean of the David Cardozo Academy and the Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu in Jerusalem. A sought-after lecturer on the international stage for both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences, Rabbi Cardozo is the author of 13 books and numerous articles in both English and Hebrew. He heads a Think Tank focused on finding new Halachic and philosophical approaches to dealing with the crisis of religion and identity amongst Jews and the Jewish State of Israel. Hailing from the Netherlands, Rabbi Cardozo is known for his original and often fearlessly controversial insights into Judaism. His ideas are widely debated on an international level on social media, blogs, books and other forums.
Recent articles by Nathan Lopes Cardozo
While I greatly admire Rabbi Soloveitchik’s essays such as The Lonely Man of Faith, I wonder why he never addressed some of the issues that keep many people away from Orthodoxy, such as the issue of Torah Min HaShamayim and Bible criticism. It may be true that the Rav avoided the issue of Bible criticism out of principle. But if so, then he was out of touch with reality. At the time, Bible criticism was a major topic of discussion, as it still is. This subject is of utmost importance, and if anyone could have dealt with it head-on it was the Rav.
Why continue to praise God for a hidden miracle when it seems that even hidden miracles came to an end with the Holocaust? This question should be on the mind of every Jew who celebrates Purim.
Some appropriately irreverent thoughts to…well, no, not to ponder on the occasion of Purim.
Learning Torah is equivalent to standing at Sinai. Learning Torah is hearing it and consequently seeing its contents transmitted at Sinai in the here and now. So the learning of its text is a religious happening, the experience of something that normally can only be recalled.
The Israelites’ experience of slavery had made them utterly convinced that mankind at large was anti-Semitic. God therefore sent them a righteous gentile by the name of Yitro, to impress upon them that the non-Jewish world includes remarkable people, who not only possess much wisdom but actually love the people of Israel and contribute to Jewish life.
Rav Soloveitchik himself was a traditionalist, who combined that ideology with religious Zionism and tried very hard to give it a place in the world of philosophy and modernity. He was unable to overcome the enormous tension between these two worlds and so became a “lonely man of faith,” with no disciples but with many students, each one of whom claimed their own Rav Soloveitchik. The truth is that the real Rav Soloveitchik was more than the sum total of all of them – a man of supreme greatness who was a tragic figure.
Only when making a sincere effort to reduce the pain of one’s fellow human beings can one be called a great person! Chief Rabbis, as well as other halachic authorities who do not apply this approach, are not only inadequate religious leaders, but they also become an obstacle to Judaism and should step down. Allowing them to maintain their authority is a sheer disgrace.
Judaism declares that emotions are what make a person; they are real and of crucial importance. In fact, emotions are central to a person’s existence, since they are the foundation of moral behavior. It is for this reason that Judaism views God as an emotional Being. By metaphorically attributing emotions to God, they are raised to a supreme state. If God has emotions such as love, mercy, jealousy and anger, then they must be genuine, important, and not ignored when found in humans.
Religious condemnations, whether by bans or by other means, reflect negatively on those who issue them. Truth will not be served by imposing bans and issuing condemnations, but only by honest investigation and dialogue.
In our day, the word “tolerance” has become very popular, as have words such as “pluralism,” “democracy,” and “unity.” These terms are used so often that one would hope most people have a proper understanding of their meanings. This is, however, far from true.
“Lord of the Universe, I beg You to redeem Israel; but if You do not want to do that, then I beg You to redeem the gentiles.” Rabbi Yisrael Hopstein, Maggid of Kozhnitz and legendary Chassidic leader in Poland (1733-1814) (1) When Rabbi Professor Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), the famous American Chassidic thinker who lived […]
When looking at the lives of the Avot, the three forefathers of the People of Israel, it is remarkable to note that not one of them was officially called a tzaddik (righteous man) by the Talmudic and midrashic Sages. Only Yaakov’s son Yosef was granted that title. (1) This is rather strange, since it cannot […]
History, the study of cause and effect in the annals of humankind, has been a serious challenge for honest historians. In many ways, interpreting history is conjecture. What motivates many historians, more than what actually occurred, is what they would like to believe happened.
Do terrible tragedies which afflict the innocent beg the question of whether it is more honest to deny God’s existence? Does all the pain in this world not make a strong case for such a proposition? Is the constant attempt to justify God’s existence, by way of apologetics, not a farce, and futile?
Only two weeks ago nearly all of the land of Israel was surrounded by huge fires which destroyed thousands of homes and possessions. Luckily and because of the great and heroic effort of so many fire brigades from Israel and other countries this time nobody lost her or his life unlike in the 2010 Mt. Carmel forest fire, when over 44 people lost their lives.
The foremost point of departure in any halachic decision must be that all people are created in the image of God and that all human life is holy. While different tasks, inclinations, and historical events should be recognized and allow for distinctions between people, no discrimination can ever be tolerated.
Judaism is in trouble. More and more of the unacceptable is being done and said in its name. Besides causing infinite damage to Judaism’s great message, it is a terrible desecration of God’s name. And all of this is seen and heard by millions of gentiles watching television, browsing websites, or listening to the radio.
It is well known that the institution of Shabbat is one of the best inventions God ever came up with. It no doubt qualifies Him to receive the Nobel Prize for innovative thinking, and the venerable judges in Sweden should sincerely consider bestowing this honor on the Lord of the Universe.
Psychologists tell us that one of man’s greatest enemies today is boredom. Sometimes, when reading a paper or popular journal; watching television or a DVD; using an MP3 or an iPod; or posting on Facebook every hour to inform our friends of what we just did, we are confronted with the most absurd manifestations of monotony and apathy.