If the Spanish-Portuguese community and Chief Rabbi Mervis give in to blatant blackmail by ultra-Orthodox elements then rabbis will no longer be able to speak their minds. The S&P and other communities will lose their independence and be subject to censure by all sorts of self-acclaimed rabbinical extremists, creating a situation that will terribly compromise Judaism.
When Orthodox rabbis are told that they are no longer able to speak their minds, offer new insights into Orthodox Judaism, or try to find solutions to serious problems by using innovative ideas, we are faced with a rabbinical world that is wearing blinders, is comprised of yes-people looking over their shoulders, and is generating a hazardous small-mindedness that has far-reaching effects.
In our day, the word “tolerance” has become very popular, as have words such as “pluralism,” “democracy,” and “unity.” These terms are used so often that one would hope most people have a proper understanding of their meanings. This is, however, far from true.
“Lord of the Universe, I beg You to redeem Israel; but if You do not want to do that, then I beg You to redeem the gentiles.” Rabbi Yisrael Hopstein, Maggid of Kozhnitz and legendary Chassidic leader in Poland (1733-1814) (1) When Rabbi Professor Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), the famous American Chassidic thinker who lived […]
History, the study of cause and effect in the annals of humankind, has been a serious challenge for honest historians. In many ways, interpreting history is conjecture. What motivates many historians, more than what actually occurred, is what they would like to believe happened.
Do terrible tragedies which afflict the innocent beg the question of whether it is more honest to deny God’s existence? Does all the pain in this world not make a strong case for such a proposition? Is the constant attempt to justify God’s existence, by way of apologetics, not a farce, and futile?
Only two weeks ago nearly all of the land of Israel was surrounded by huge fires which destroyed thousands of homes and possessions. Luckily and because of the great and heroic effort of so many fire brigades from Israel and other countries this time nobody lost her or his life unlike in the 2010 Mt. Carmel forest fire, when over 44 people lost their lives.
Psychologists tell us that one of man’s greatest enemies today is boredom. Sometimes, when reading a paper or popular journal; watching television or a DVD; using an MP3 or an iPod; or posting on Facebook every hour to inform our friends of what we just did, we are confronted with the most absurd manifestations of monotony and apathy.
Torah study has become nearly impossible, and the problem lies not with the Torah but with the reader. Reading the text requires courage. Not to open the Book and start reading, but courage to confront oneself. Learning Torah requires human authenticity; it means standing in front of a mirror and asking yourself the daunting question of who you really are, without masks and artificialities.
I believe that the Torah is min hashamayim (“from heaven”) and that its every word is divine and holy. But I do not believe that the Torah is (always) historically true (sometimes it seems like Divine fiction), or that it is uninfluenced by external sources.