I’ve always wondered what would have happened if Spinoza had met the Kotzker. Both were obsessed with truth, but each approached it from a different point of view. In Spinoza’s pantheism, there is a strong Kabbalistic element but, simultaneously, a denial of a personal (biblical) God. However much some Spinoza scholars want to claim that all of his philosophy was based on pure reason, it is very clear that there are elements in his philosophy that reveal aspects of mysticism. Both were searching for God and knew no compromise.
However much money Israel may make from hosting Eurovision, it is absolutely wrong and shameful that Israel’s leadership will allow violation of Shabbat on this occasion. It is self-evident that this has nothing to do with pikuach nefesh. Israel should cancel the Eurovision Song Contest if its organizers are not prepared to find a solution so that Israel can keep its head high and show the world what it means to stand for one’s principles.
What is holiness? It has something to do with the constant awareness that God is to be discovered in all that one does, speaks, thinks, and feels. But that’s nearly unattainable. How does one live up to this?
Faith is like music. It is true because of its beauty, not because of its intellectual certainty. It stems from impossible paradoxes, as well as a great deal of imagination that surpasses rationality and scientific or historical facts.
For me, praying is the admission that we need His help and that we are not God! I have to make myself aware that I need to praise Him because I am not His equal; not because He needs me for anything. But sometimes, as after a tragedy, I want to turn my prayer into a protest against God.
I was recently asked by Rav Ari Ze’ev Schwartz of the Society of Independent Spirituality: Can you say a little about the educational and spiritual goals of your weekly articles? What do you want your readers to experience when they read these articles? How do you yourself experience these goals and articles? Here is my response.
Is God really perfect as we always maintain? God Himself tells Moshe Eheyeh asher eheyeh—I will be what I will be. Not “I am what I am” as the Septuagint mistranslates. But how can that be? It means that He is not yet what He should be and that He never will be. Apparently He is incomplete, because He seems capable of changing and moving toward perfection, but He will never be able to actually reach perfection. God is trapped in a contradiction. So, is God a verb? Always “godding”? Always imprisoned in a becoming mode? What then is God? An unending trial to be God?
In last week’s Thoughts to Ponder (no 623), we published the first half of an interview with Rabbi Cardozo. At the end of his observations, Rabbi Cardozo discussed the codification and dogmatization of Jewish Law and religious beliefs as they took place in the diaspora and showed that these developments did not do justice to—and in fact opposed authentic Judaism. Here is the continuation of his arguments.
The Beauty of the Jewish tradition is that it is not always precise and consistent, because ife is not clear-cut or coherent. We need flexibility to work out the different opinions so that Jewish Law and beliefs stay fresh and thriving. The moment we codify or dogmatize it all, we destroy it.
We are in desperate need of bold ideas that will place the Torah in the center of our lives and make us receptive to God’s presence through a daring new encounter with Him. Let it be heroic. Not staid and comfortable, but painful and hard-won; a deep breath in the midst of the ongoing conflict ever-present in the heart of humankind.