To be given the opportunity to do teshuvah is an enormous privilege. It is a joy to be able to say I am sorry. This is the ultimate expression of religious optimism. Judaism teaches man that there is no karma that traps him, and no original sin that stands in his way. Man is free to re-engage with God and his fellow man. Whatever obstacles there may be, all that is required is the will to change his ways and the effort to work hard at it.
Louis Jacobs is not at all as radical as some would like to believe. In fact, some ultra-Orthodox thinkers were even more radical than Rabbi Jacobs but remained completely committed to Orthodox Halacha and the belief in Torah from Heaven.
I am jealous of atheists because they are able to believe the unbelievable. And I, in my simplicity, cannot reach that state of belief.
The real struggle for moral liberty started the day after the exodus from Egypt. The first day was a given; it was the day of God, not of the people. It was the day of passivity and complete surrender. Only the next day did the spiritual labor of the human being begin, and that is therefore the first day of our spiritual elevation.
We Jews are messengers, but we have forgotten the message. It is our obligation to rediscover it and advance it into eternity. Our task is to be more than human, more than good, and more than pious, to surpass all these and once again become God’s stake in the future.
Rabbi Yochanan taught us that Jews can survive without Israel, as long as there is Torah, the portable homeland of the Jewish people. But Jews will not survive solely because of the existence of Israel—however powerful it may be—if Israel does not incorporate a large percentage of Jewish traditional resources.
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.
To attend synagogue is an art. People must come with a sincere urge to discover their Jewishness, to reconnect with their inner being and with the Jewish people. To enter the synagogue is to hope for a metamorphosis in one’s soul and a transformation of one’s personality.
There is little doubt that secular Jews, consciously or unconsciously, keep a large number of commandments. Many of them may not be in the form of rituals, but there is massive evidence pointing to secular Jews’ commitment to keeping interpersonal mitzvot. Beneath the divisiveness of traditional commitment lie underpinnings of religion such as compassion, humility, awe, and even faith.