Revitalizing Judaism

The David Cardozo Academy seeks to restore the relevance of Judaism as a force of authentic, non-dogmatic religiosity.

Latest Essay

Parashat Chukat – The Red Heifer and the Meaning of Life

This week’s parashah opens with the perplexing law of the Red Heifer, whose ashes purify one who has come into contact with the dead. This strange ritual requires that “a red cow without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which no yoke has been laid” be slaughtered, then burned and its ashes mixed with water. This water would be held in reserve to be sprinkled over an individual who had come into contact with a corpse and was consequently ritually “impure”. Even stranger is the fact that the priest who prepares this purifying water, by his involvement with the preparation process, become impure!

This law is held up as the exemplar of a “Chok”—a commandment for which no obvious rationale can be found. Such a law is very different from the “Mishpatim”—those commandments whose moral or intellectual underpinnings are clear and reasonable. What are we to make of this “irrational law” of the Red Heifer?

“Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo has emerged as one of the most thoughtful voices in contemporary Judaism. He is a man of deep faith and wide intellectual horizons, unafraid to confront the challenges of the age with the quiet confidence of one who is attuned to the music of eternity.”

—Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, z.l., former Chief Rabbi of the UK


Latest Zoom Lecture

The Jewish State is something unique amidst human history – an ancient nation returned to its land after 2,000 years of exile. This historical event holds tremendous religious value over and above the national value we all appreciate, but the State also challenges Judaism and Jewish Law. How is Judaism to adjust to these new circumstances?

Rabbi Cardozo discusses this and, basing himself on some of the great halachic authorities argues that the Nation of Israel’s return to the Land of Israel should be a direct return to the ideal world of Judaism, where, under these singular conditions, Jewish Law once again can become organic and dynamic, and awaken from its, albeit essential, stagnation during the long exile.

Faith & Defiance

Chapter 17 – We are Naught: The Real Meaning of Religion

We are Naught (cont.): The Real Meaning of Religion In memory of my dear friend Leo Meyers z.l., Amsterdam   As I mentioned in the previous chapter, it became clear to me at a later stage of my life that most of those surrounding me did not properly understand the nature of science and its […]

More Faith & Defiance Essays

New to this series?

Start here!

Documentary: Lonely but not Alone