There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.
Nothing is more dangerous for a person than to remain spiritually stale, and we are therefore required to count the 49 days of the Omer. In order to prepare ourselves for the upcoming celebration of Shavuot and the giving of the Torah, we are asked to climb a ladder of 49 spiritual steps, each day adding another dimension to our souls.
Contrary to what is commonly believed, the story of the Exodus was mainly one of Divine silence, in which only occasionally a word of God entered the human condition. While Pesach Haggada relates the miracles, the “empty spaces” in between tell us of a frightening Divine silence of some 38 years. And just as our forefathers must have often wondered where God was all those years, so do we. But just as they made it through, so must we.
We need to ask ourselves a pertinent question: Is our aversion to sacrifices the result of our supreme spiritual sophistication, which caused us to leave the world of sacrifices behind us? Or, have we sunk so low that we aren’t even able to reach the level of idol worshipers who, however primitive we believe them to have been, possessed a higher spiritual level than some of us who call ourselves monotheists?
The divine instructions relating to the building and the architecture of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) are laid out in great detail; not even the smallest nuance is excluded, and nothing is left to human imagination. Preciseness stands out, and every pin and string is mentioned. This is in total opposition to the spiritual condition and devotion required of every Israelite when helping to erect the Mishkan, which called for personal input, creativity and inspiration. How do we reconcile these contradictions: formality versus spontaneity; total commitment to the letter of the law versus unprecedented emotional outbursts of religious devotion? Are such notions not mutually exclusive and irreconcilable?
While I greatly admire Rabbi Soloveitchik’s essays such as The Lonely Man of Faith, I wonder why he never addressed some of the issues that keep many people away from Orthodoxy, such as the issue of Torah Min HaShamayim and Bible criticism. It may be true that the Rav avoided the issue of Bible criticism out of principle. But if so, then he was out of touch with reality. At the time, Bible criticism was a major topic of discussion, as it still is. This subject is of utmost importance, and if anyone could have dealt with it head-on it was the Rav.
Why continue to praise God for a hidden miracle when it seems that even hidden miracles came to an end with the Holocaust? This question should be on the mind of every Jew who celebrates Purim.
Some appropriately irreverent thoughts to…well, no, not to ponder on the occasion of Purim.
Learning Torah is equivalent to standing at Sinai. Learning Torah is hearing it and consequently seeing its contents transmitted at Sinai in the here and now. So the learning of its text is a religious happening, the experience of something that normally can only be recalled.
The Israelites’ experience of slavery had made them utterly convinced that mankind at large was anti-Semitic. God therefore sent them a righteous gentile by the name of Yitro, to impress upon them that the non-Jewish world includes remarkable people, who not only possess much wisdom but actually love the people of Israel and contribute to Jewish life.