We must teach Halacha as a musical symphony, in which all students see opportunities to discover their inner selves. Teachers must stand in front of their classes as a conductor stands before his orchestra and draws it out of its confinement, moving it beyond itself. They must show their students how to pull the ineffable out of the dry halacha and turn it into an encounter with God.
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.
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.