Judaism was born out of opposition, rebellion and protest. It overthrew and outlived mighty empires and gave the world a radically new understanding of itself. Judaism has nothing to fear. It has prevailed over all those who criticized it but has also learned much about itself by listening to opposing voices. Through these voices, it has been able to sharpen its own claims and if necessary change its mind when the inadequacy of these claims has become clear. Only in this way will it continue to play a central role in the future of mankind.
Last week, something remarkable happened. Thousands of Jews from all over the world came together to study the last page of an old book with the ineffable anticipation of starting to study it all over again from page one and not to lose a minute.
It is extremely difficult to know whether the stories and observations about Jesus in the Talmud actually refer to the Jesus of the New Testament. Scholars have made the important observation that there is also a very great discrepancy between the picture which emerges from the actual text of the New Testament and the one developed by the church.
We should be careful in the way how we deal with people who are contemplating the possibility of leaving the fold. Much could be prevented, and too much is at stake.
Dear Friends, Shalom u-vracha. Although we have received several new gifts, for which we are most thankful, our financial situation has still not been resolved. The unfortunate “witch hunt” against some of my ideas seems to continue and has created much financial damage to our programs, projects and writings. As I have stated before, I […]
Faith means striving for faith. It is never an arrival. It can only burst forth at singular moments. It does not arise out of logical deduction, but out of uncertainty, which is its natural breeding ground. To have faith is to live with unresolved doubts, prepared to rise above ourselves and our wisdom. Looking into the Jewish tradition with its many debates, one clearly understands that those who deny themselves the comfort of certainty are much more authentic than those who are sure.
Avraham was an unparalleled leader and walked in front of everybody else. But he was also a captain who cared for the underdog and who pleaded with God not to leave the wicked people of Sedom and Amora behind.
All of us frequently succumb to the danger of prayer by rote, which can easily lead to other serious problems. The worshipers may be so arrogantly satisfied with themselves that they completely forget in front of Whom they stand while praying.
The day after Yom Kippur, the synagogue service really should be a completely different experience from what people are used to. Yom Kippur should still be in the bones of all synagogue participants. Its spirit should still be felt with every prayer. It should be completely impossible for synagogue services to return to their old ways, in which prayers are said as if “nothing happened.”
Two new podcasts, plus an essay for Yom Kippur.