Lately, the State of Israel is experiencing a new phenomenon. As is well known, the Ba’al Teshuva movement, which includes thousands of secular Jews who have turned to Judaism, has made a major impact on Israeli society. Many young people who were once involved in extreme secularity felt that they had to re-connect with their own heritage and found their way back to Torah and Tradition. This gave rise to a great amount of highly successful institutions such as Aish haTorah, Ohr Somayach, Machon Meir and Neve Yerushalaim.
One of the most challenging aspects of religious life is how to relate to the concept of revelation. The uncompromising claim by Judaism that the Torah is not a book which was written by man but the result of a revelation of God’s will to man requires a formidable amount of faith in the face of so much skepticism and secularity.
No word in the Torah is as central to Judaism as the word, “kedusha,” holiness. But no word in the Jewish Tradition is so open to misunderstanding.
In Tractate Sanhedrin (91a), we read about a most relevant story which took place in the days of Alexander of Macedonia, known as Alexander the Great (4th century before the common era.) Just after Moshe’ death, when Yehoshua entered the land of Israel together with his people, there were seven tribes, hostile to the Jews, occupying the land.
For some years now there has been a major debate among religious thinkers if the Holocaust should be seen as a divine punishment. Pointing to the Torah’s warnings (Vayikra 26, Devarim 28) that the divine curses would come true if a widespread violation of the laws of the Torah would occur, some thinkers maintain that the Holocaust is clearly the result of the Jewish people transgressing the laws of the Torah.