The Coronavirus has once more confronted us with the absence of God in modern times. This absence is often seen as the cause for much secularism. No longer, it is argued, are there enough indications for God’s interference in the national and private affairs of mankind. Is there another way to look at this seeming absence? Might we find God in silence?
The new reality in the age of COVID-19 forces us to break with the monotony that most of us are used to. Almost all of us jump into routine every morning – whether it’s a job, or the need to sleep, eat, or entertain ourselves. And now, the corona virus suddenly forces us to rethink everything, making us wonder what this life of ours is really all about.
Israel will not survive without Judaism, but it must be a Judaism that has liberated itself from religious and halachic stagnation caused by its mainstream rabbinical leadership. It must show its multifaceted, colorful religious and social dimensions, imbued with much encouragement, which have become the sine qua non for a modern Jewish State.
Shabbat is the day on which we are asked to put aside all the profanity of clattering commerce and the fury of greed; of trying to convince ourselves that we are the absolute owners of this world. It is a day of protest against all the external pomp, glitter, and power. Its purpose is to turn the world into an island of tranquility in the stormy sea of worldliness, for one day each week.
Israel’s very existence is the manifestation of divine intervention in history to which it must attest. In Israel, history and revelation are one. Only in Israel do they coincide. While other nations exist as nations, the people of Israel exist as a reminder of God’s involvement in world history. Only through Israel is humanity directly touched by the divine.
However much money Israel may make from hosting Eurovision, it is absolutely wrong and shameful that Israel’s leadership will allow violation of Shabbat on this occasion. It is self-evident that this has nothing to do with pikuach nefesh. Israel should cancel the Eurovision Song Contest if its organizers are not prepared to find a solution so that Israel can keep its head high and show the world what it means to stand for one’s principles.
Paradoxically, the only way to create unity among different denominations is for all to recognize that they are fundamentally divided. We need to stop asking for compromise on the very beliefs that are matters of personal conscience and therefore categorical.
All discussions of why certain marriages or sexual relationships are forbidden are doomed to fail! No human reasoning is able to explain them in any consistent way. It is for this reason that religious thinkers should distance themselves from giving primary reasons for these prohibitions.
The ruling by the Eida HaHareidit that Ethiopian Jews are not fully Jewish is scandalous and deeply embarrassing. It disgraces Judaism and is as anti-Jewish as can be. This and many other rabbinical decisions are not part of the Judaism I converted to. I abhor them and want no part of them.
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.