Rembrandt reminds us that if we want to really live we must show flawless integrity and demonstrate great authenticity. It is all about making a genuine contribution to the world, with no regard for gain, and even being prepared to pay the price of one’s rank and position in the conventional community. A person must make sure that he can look himself in the mirror at the end of his life and say, I lived my life; it did not just pass me by.
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
Judaism was born out of opposition, rebellion and protest. It overthrew and outlived mighty empires and gave the world a radically new understanding of itself. Judaism has nothing to fear. It has prevailed over all those who criticized it but has also learned much about itself by listening to opposing voices. Through these voices, it has been able to sharpen its own claims and if necessary change its mind when the inadequacy of these claims has become clear. Only in this way will it continue to play a central role in the future of mankind.
Last week, something remarkable happened. Thousands of Jews from all over the world came together to study the last page of an old book with the ineffable anticipation of starting to study it all over again from page one and not to lose a minute.
It is extremely difficult to know whether the stories and observations about Jesus in the Talmud actually refer to the Jesus of the New Testament. Scholars have made the important observation that there is also a very great discrepancy between the picture which emerges from the actual text of the New Testament and the one developed by the church.
We should be careful in the way how we deal with people who are contemplating the possibility of leaving the fold. Much could be prevented, and too much is at stake.
God who is beyond time and space, is the source of all what happens and so uses false accusations, pretexts, and insidiousness against human beings while teaching them simultaneously that they are free to act and that they carry full responsibility for their deeds.
Faith means striving for faith. It is never an arrival. It can only burst forth at singular moments. It does not arise out of logical deduction, but out of uncertainty, which is its natural breeding ground. To have faith is to live with unresolved doubts, prepared to rise above ourselves and our wisdom. Looking into the Jewish tradition with its many debates, one clearly understands that those who deny themselves the comfort of certainty are much more authentic than those who are sure.
For the authentically religious personality, religion can be experienced and lived only in a state of originality. Any imitation of fellow worshipers is serving oneself and not God. In essence, religion is an attempt to search for God, the ultimate Original.
Avraham was an unparalleled leader and walked in front of everybody else. But he was also a captain who cared for the underdog and who pleaded with God not to leave the wicked people of Sedom and Amora behind.
Avraham learns that to be religious is to live with a God Who carries contradictions and incongruities. Consistent gods are idols because they don’t teach man how to live in a world that is full of dichotomies and inconsistencies. To be religious means to know how to navigate unresolvable conflicts, to be bold enough to negotiate, and to stand upright even when failing.
All of us frequently succumb to the danger of prayer by rote, which can easily lead to other serious problems. The worshipers may be so arrogantly satisfied with themselves that they completely forget in front of Whom they stand while praying.
Noah does not represent genuine religiosity. Yes, many religious Jews believe that it is only in obedience that one must live one’s religious life. But that is not what the first Jew and authentic Judaism are all about. Judaism is a covenant between man and God, in which man is co-creator. God orders him to take action beyond His commandments. He is asked to build the world with the ingredients that God supplied at the time of creation. And when God destroys the world, it is man’s task to restore it.
Many friends have asked me to explain a little more why the David Cardozo Academy no longer has the finances to send new weekly Thoughts To Ponder, authored by myself as I have done for many years.
The day after Yom Kippur, the synagogue service really should be a completely different experience from what people are used to. Yom Kippur should still be in the bones of all synagogue participants. Its spirit should still be felt with every prayer. It should be completely impossible for synagogue services to return to their old ways, in which prayers are said as if “nothing happened.”
Two new podcasts, plus an essay for Yom Kippur.
A parable for Rosh Hashana, plus, two new podcasts: On music as religious experience, and on the importance of bringing children into the world.
To my great regret, due to a severe lack of funds, the David Cardozo Academy has been forced to leave its offices, hence, I will not be able, at least for the meantime, to write and send out my weekly Thoughts to Ponder.
Why do we believe that revelation may be possible? If revaluation is by definition not amenable to scientific investigation, what other faculty is available to us to contemplate the prospect of revelation? Believe it or not, this depends on our openness and capacity to wonder, to be perplexed and stand in amazement, which happens when we have no other way of dealing with something extraordinary.
The blowing of the shofar proves that we can surpass ourselves. On our own, using our vocal cords, we are unable to produce this sound – a terrifying penetrating resonance. Alone, we cannot produce a sound that comes close to the piercing and penetrating heavenly voice of the shofar, which can cause human beings to break down, pick themselves up again, and transform into new individuals.
Religion is a protest against taking life for granted. There are no insignificant phenomena or deeds in this world, and it is through Judaism’s demands and far-reaching interference in our daily life that we are made aware of God as our steadfast Companion.