I am jealous of atheists because they are able to believe the unbelievable. And I, in my simplicity, cannot reach that state of belief.
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
To be satisfied is one of the greatest blessings that can ever be bestowed upon human beings. The Torah teaches us that when the People of Israel live in accordance with the requirements of the Torah, what will matter is not what a person “has” but what a person “is.”
The real struggle for moral liberty started the day after the exodus from Egypt. The first day was a given; it was the day of God, not of the people. It was the day of passivity and complete surrender. Only the next day did the spiritual labor of the human being begin, and that is therefore the first day of our spiritual elevation.
We Jews are messengers, but we have forgotten the message. It is our obligation to rediscover it and advance it into eternity. Our task is to be more than human, more than good, and more than pious, to surpass all these and once again become God’s stake in the future.
The founding of the State of Israel, then, is not the beginning of the marriage between the land and the Jewish people, but rather a reaffirmation of the marriage commitment that took place thousands of years ago between God and Abraham. The marriage was created to give birth to a wellspring of religious and moral teachings that will suffuse humankind with the knowledge that life is holy and that God awaits people’s response to His call in order to redeem His world.
Rabbi Yochanan taught us that Jews can survive without Israel, as long as there is Torah, the portable homeland of the Jewish people. But Jews will not survive solely because of the existence of Israel—however powerful it may be—if Israel does not incorporate a large percentage of Jewish traditional resources.
Why do we use karpas—a green vegetable—dipped in salt water at the beginning of the Seder? Could it have something to do with the other meaning of karpas—fine woolen cloth? There is a lesson here, hidden in plain sight, about causality and Divine Providence.
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.
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.