When we read the text on the Seder night, we should be aware that it only provides the opening words. The real Haggada has no text. It is not to be read, but is rather to be heard. And, just as with the Torah, we have not even begun to understand its full meaning. We are simply perpetual beginners.
Radical change has taken place in the Jewish world after the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. We have been shown that it is impossible for all of us to stay outside of history. The Holocaust has taught us that we cannot survive without entering history. To argue that our yeshiva students are the ones who really defend us against our enemies, and that we do not need soldiers, is an escape from reality.
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.
Purim Torah: How acting crazy helps your chess game!
The Torah demands of the Jews: “You shall erase the memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens. You shall not forget.” This commandment seems to be a paradox: How can we erase the memory of Amalek if we are not allowed to forget what he did?However, it is very possible that the Torah hints here not only to the monstrous deeds of Amalek, but also to the injustices that were done by our forefathers to the ancestors of Amalek.
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.
Yitro confronts us for the first time with a new phenomenon: to be a Jew by choice. By doing so, he presents all Jews with a major challenge: how to become a Jew by choice even when one has been born into the fold; how to feel the fire needed to live the life of an authentic Jew, as Yitro did. Such an undertaking is possible only if one is able to re-enact and experience Yitro’s journey to Judaism.
How can we understand the self-delusion of the Jews who complained against Moshe for taking them out of Egypt? Obviously, the Israelites were well aware that their life in Egypt was not one of tranquility while sitting by pots of meat! I would suggest that they did not intend to deny the past, but that they wanted to deny the future. Not that it did not happen, but that it would not happen again!
When we object to circumcision on the basis of its denying the child’s right to autonomy over his body, it could seem that we are making a valid claim. Indeed, by what right are we, as parents, allowed to make the decision to bring a child into the Covenant? But shouldn’t we also ask ourselves honestly whether we have the right to bring a child into this world at all? Is that not a much greater injustice than circumcision?