The Coronavirus has once more confronted us with the absence of God in modern times. This absence is often seen as the cause for much secularism. No longer, it is argued, are there enough indications for God’s interference in the national and private affairs of mankind. Is there another way to look at this seeming absence? Might we find God in silence?
In these trying times, it is of great value to focus on spiritual matters that may move us to a different plain. This will give us comfort, broaden our minds and enlarge our souls, as we carefully follow all the health regulations prescribed by our authorities. Here is the fourth part of Yehudah DovBer Zirkind’s reflections on the ideas of the Mei HaShiloach and my own comments.
The new reality in the age of COVID-19 forces us to break with the monotony that most of us are used to. Almost all of us jump into routine every morning – whether it’s a job, or the need to sleep, eat, or entertain ourselves. And now, the corona virus suddenly forces us to rethink everything, making us wonder what this life of ours is really all about.
The two different approaches to the Torah: the “perfect Torah” and the “evolving Torah” approaches are related to a broader theological question about the nature of the mitzvot: Do the mitzvot reflect God’s ultimate and unconditional will (kvayachol), or do they reflect God’s instrumental will for humanity, providing an instruction manual for how to redeem the world? In other words, is the main purpose of the mitzvot for the sake of God (i.e. that humankind should fulfill God’s wishes) or for the sake of man (i.e. that God’s plan for humanity should be realized)?
The giving of the Torah has radically altered the course of Judaism and we cannot revert to a pre-Torah age. Nevertheless, Rabbi Cardozo believes that the vision and spirit of this formative era, i.e. the vibrancy of an inchoate and incipient Judaism – or to borrow a metaphor from biology, a “stem cell” based Judaism – should be kept alive and maintained as a counterweight against the ethos of textual fixation and rigid Halachic codification which is so prevalent within the contemporary Orthodox Jewish world.
Part 1 of a series discussing the ideas of the Chassidic master, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica, Poland (1800-1854), also known as the Mei Hashiloach, after the title of the book containing his teachings.
By designating Yitro to be the father-in-law of the most holy Jew of all times, God made it clear that He would not tolerate racism and that a righteous gentile could climb up to the highest ranks of saintliness.
Podcasts on Prayer, finding One’s Soulmate, and Army service of the Ultra Orthodox, plus a previously published essay on the similarity between Halacha and a chess game.
This collection of essays by a rabbi known internationally as “one of the most thoughtful voices in contemporary Judaism” looks at the weekly Torah portion through the eyes of philosophy, contemporary controversies, and personal struggles.
Rembrandt reminds us that if we want to really live we must show flawless integrity and demonstrate great authenticity. It is all about making a genuine contribution to the world, with no regard for gain, and even being prepared to pay the price of one’s rank and position in the conventional community. A person must make sure that he can look himself in the mirror at the end of his life and say, I lived my life; it did not just pass me by.