Spiritual experiences may represent our yearning for the “infinite”, but this yearning can only find expression in seeking to improve ourselves to the best of our ability and seeking to relate with love to the people and the world around us, while at the same time coming to an acceptance of our finiteness and separateness, overcoming the grief and outrage we feel at not being everything. Yearning for the infinite is really a way of learning how to be finite.
Religious experience is not necessarily any more valuable than purely spiritual experience. A vital part of the defining genius of the Jewish tradition is that it produced an intricate set of observances which, together, create an experiential space which is hospitable to spiritual experience and, to an extent, stimulates it.
What turns a spiritual experience into a religious one is the training and preparation that creates a religiously shaped receptacle for an experience or at least a religious vector for channeling the experience.
In evaluating Rabbi Cardozo’s critique of Rav Yoseph Dov Soloveitchik, it is important to clarify that Rabbi Cardozo criticizes Rav Soloveitchik from the perspective of the burning issues that are important to Rabbi Cardozo (i.e. changes in Halacha, daring theological approaches etc.), and it should not be seen as a general evaluation of Rav Soloveitchik’s philosophical legacy as a whole.
Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik thought is greatly indebted to Kantian philosophy. In contenting himself with the philosophical world of Kant, JBS shows himself to be thoroughly unmodern in his philosophical approach to halacha.
In the process of adapting from exile to statehood, halachah may need to be uprooted and transplanted, or even cut back to its deepest roots and regrown in a larger pot, where it can flower more freely. This will probably result in the “secularization” of some of our halachot, offset by a cultural “Judification” of our secular society. Can we use the lessons learned during the galut to survive in an increasingly decentralized and globalized world?
Several recent events—the Olympic Games and the proposal to work on the railway line construction on Shabbat—are excellent opportunities to start a conversation on the role of halacha in the Jewish State. The question is: what form should the conversation take? It should not, I believe, primarily take the form of a formal halachic argument.
Our relationship with God as we know it is not just about what we think or understand. There is also a faith that is not based in intellectual belief. This is a faith that is based on our own inner resonance with the practices and beliefs of our tradition. What happens to our emotional faith when our intellectual faith runs up against facts that seem to contradict that faith? How do we keep our balance?
Rabbi Cardozo writes: “Maybe we should literally go out in the streets and help people, sit down with our ideological enemies and see where we can find common ground, instead of simply reciting more kinot?” And yet, there are reasons why we should continue to fast and read Eichah on Tisha b’Av. Here are just a few of those reasons
A light-hearted look at a typical DCA think tank meeting, in honor of Rabbi Cardozo’s 70th Birthday. Happy Birthday Rav Cardozo!