When we read the text on the Seder night, we should be aware that it only provides the opening words. The real Haggada has no text. It is not to be read, but is rather to be heard. And, just as with the Torah, we have not even begun to understand its full meaning. We are simply perpetual beginners.
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
Radical change has taken place in the Jewish world after the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. We have been shown that it is impossible for all of us to stay outside of history. The Holocaust has taught us that we cannot survive without entering history. To argue that our yeshiva students are the ones who really defend us against our enemies, and that we do not need soldiers, is an escape from reality.
Judaism is about an upheaval in the soul and the need to break with all sorts of idols. It is about living with spiritual trepidation in which man realizes that he was created from dust but has the ability to reach Heaven. Whether or not man succeeds will depend on his willingness to stand in awe.
Purim Torah: How acting crazy helps your chess game!
The Torah demands of the Jews: “You shall erase the memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens. You shall not forget.” This commandment seems to be a paradox: How can we erase the memory of Amalek if we are not allowed to forget what he did?However, it is very possible that the Torah hints here not only to the monstrous deeds of Amalek, but also to the injustices that were done by our forefathers to the ancestors of Amalek.
To attend synagogue is an art. People must come with a sincere urge to discover their Jewishness, to reconnect with their inner being and with the Jewish people. To enter the synagogue is to hope for a metamorphosis in one’s soul and a transformation of one’s personality.
There is little doubt that secular Jews, consciously or unconsciously, keep a large number of commandments. Many of them may not be in the form of rituals, but there is massive evidence pointing to secular Jews’ commitment to keeping interpersonal mitzvot. Beneath the divisiveness of traditional commitment lie underpinnings of religion such as compassion, humility, awe, and even faith.
Yitro confronts us for the first time with a new phenomenon: to be a Jew by choice. By doing so, he presents all Jews with a major challenge: how to become a Jew by choice even when one has been born into the fold; how to feel the fire needed to live the life of an authentic Jew, as Yitro did. Such an undertaking is possible only if one is able to re-enact and experience Yitro’s journey to Judaism.
How can we understand the self-delusion of the Jews who complained against Moshe for taking them out of Egypt? Obviously, the Israelites were well aware that their life in Egypt was not one of tranquility while sitting by pots of meat! I would suggest that they did not intend to deny the past, but that they wanted to deny the future. Not that it did not happen, but that it would not happen again!
When we object to circumcision on the basis of its denying the child’s right to autonomy over his body, it could seem that we are making a valid claim. Indeed, by what right are we, as parents, allowed to make the decision to bring a child into the Covenant? But shouldn’t we also ask ourselves honestly whether we have the right to bring a child into this world at all? Is that not a much greater injustice than circumcision?
What was Moshe’s secret that enabled him to continue to fight for his goals, in spite of everything, and succeed where so many others would have failed? The answer is simple: he knew how to lose. He knew that his failures were in fact the building blocks for his future successes.
How much might Judaism have benefited from people like Jesus, Elisha Ben Avuyah and Spinoza, had they not been rejected and had they contributed to the tradition in which they were raised?
Today, Israel has many thousands of immigrants who are of Jewish descent, yet not halachically Jewish. Should we convert them even though we know that they will not live a fully committed Jewish life? Or should we abandon them, basically ignoring and excluding them as we do now? I believe there is a third way, a way of reconciling these difficulties.
A strictly secular approach to major moral issues may have to be much more restrictive than that which any religion would ever demand. In fact, a secular moral attitude may make life extremely difficult and even impossible.
Some Jews should not be Jews and some non-Jews should be Jews. Authenticity, after all, cannot be inherited; it can only be nurtured. Ideally, only those who consciously take on the Jewish mission, and live accordingly, should be considered Jews. If not for the need for a Jewish people, it would have been better to have a Jewish faith community where people can come and go depending on their willingness to commit to the Jewish religious way and its mission – similar to how other religions conduct themselves.
A poem in praise of the holy city of Jerusalem, in the wake of the American announcement to designate Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Halacha is the practical upshot of unfinalized beliefs, a practical way of life while remaining in theological suspense. In matters of the spirit and the quest to find God, it is not possible to come to final conclusions. The quest for God must remain open-ended to enable the human spirit to find its way through trial and discovery.
Like the generation of the Tower of Babel, in which the whole world was “of one language and of one speech,” we are producing a religious Jewish community of artificial conformism in which independent thought and difference of opinion is not only condemned, but its absence is considered to be the ultimate ideal.
Rather than ignore the body, Halacha draws a person’s attention to its complexities. It informs human beings not to fall victim to grandiose dreams. There are limits to human existence, and it is exactly this fact that makes life a challenge and a joy.
When teaching, our rabbis’ and teachers’ personal conduct must be a reflection of what they impart in the classroom, as there is truly no better education than by example. Thought and practice must illuminate each other.