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.
היכולת המופלאה של העם היהודי לגבור על כל אויביו – מהמצרים ועד היוונים, הרומאים והפרסים… ועד לנאצים – בהחלט עשויה להיות תוצאה של אותה התערבות גופנית קטנה. המעשה אורך כמה שניות, אבל הוא יוצר נצח.
ההלכה היהודית חייבת לנוע ולגדול, תוך שהיא לוקחת בחשבון התפתחויות עולמיות שונות ומובילה אותן. וכל זאת יכול לקרות רק אם היא זורמת ומאפשרת מידה גדולה של גמישות, מה שקודיפיקציה לא יכולה להציע. ודאי שיש צורך במידה מסוימת של קונפורמיזם, בדיוק כפי שפועל חוק אזרחי.
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.
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.
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.
Every generation must find its own way to God and subsequently to the Jewish tradition. From a religious point of view, were this not the case, there would be little reason for that generation to exist. What, after all, is the meaning of human existence if not to reveal another dimension of God’s multi-colored world and Torah, and thus to gain a greater understanding of self?
The very fact that today we encounter a serious endeavor to see Halacha as the only expression of Judaism, and that some halachic authorities constantly attempt to bring the hashkafa (religious philosophy) of Judaism back to finalized dogmas, is a clear indication that those very authorities try to Halacha-ize issues of faith. But doing so robs Judaism of its vital flowing life force. We need to understand that Halacha is the practical upshot of un-finalized beliefs, a practical way of living while remaining in theological suspense.
We’re delighted to share with you a full-color bulletin with photos detailing what the David Cardozo Academy Think Tank has been up to this year – our regular activities plus an Open Think Tank for the public in March. There are also questions for you to ponder – it wouldn’t be the DCA Think Tank without them!
In Biblical days the Halacha was astir while the world was sleeping. Today the world is astir while the Halacha is sleeping. Only when it wakes up and starts to challenge our society with novel ideas and rulings will it once more be the vital mover of Jewish life. It must be prepared to look inward, challenge its own verdicts and once again understand that its main function is to protest and rebel.