A parable for Rosh Hashana, plus, two new podcasts: On music as religious experience, and on the importance of bringing children into the world.
To my great regret, due to a severe lack of funds, the David Cardozo Academy has been forced to leave its offices, hence, I will not be able, at least for the meantime, to write and send out my weekly Thoughts to Ponder.
Why do we believe that revelation may be possible? If revaluation is by definition not amenable to scientific investigation, what other faculty is available to us to contemplate the prospect of revelation? Believe it or not, this depends on our openness and capacity to wonder, to be perplexed and stand in amazement, which happens when we have no other way of dealing with something extraordinary.
The blowing of the shofar proves that we can surpass ourselves. On our own, using our vocal cords, we are unable to produce this sound – a terrifying penetrating resonance. Alone, we cannot produce a sound that comes close to the piercing and penetrating heavenly voice of the shofar, which can cause human beings to break down, pick themselves up again, and transform into new individuals.
Religion is a protest against taking life for granted. There are no insignificant phenomena or deeds in this world, and it is through Judaism’s demands and far-reaching interference in our daily life that we are made aware of God as our steadfast Companion.
Jewish education has only one goal, and that is to inspire students to reach for Heaven (Yirat Shamayim)—to transform them into outstanding human beings, who demonstrate concern for their fellowmen and dedication towards the Jewish people and the notion to serve mankind as its ultimate mission, according to the commandments of the Torah.
There is little meaning in living by Halacha if one does not hear its grace. It is not a life of Halachic observance that we need, but a life of experiencing Halacha as a daily living music recital. Observance alone does not propel man to a level of existence where he realizes that there is more to life than the mind can grasp.
In the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem the leaders of the Jewish people despaired. But the ordinary Jews did not. Despite the total collapse of Jewish life, they opted for the impossible. They not to listen to their leaders, but continued building the nation of Israel, as they had previously been taught by the very sages who now despaired. Sometimes, the simple man has more faith in the Jewish future than the greatest Talmudic scholar.
Judaism’s recognition of God is not the triumphant outcome of philosophical deduction. It results from the performance of mitzvoth. Through the observance of the commandments we perceive the Commander.
To set one’s schedule around fixed times—for prayers, for meals, for learning, etc.—does not only inject order into one’s life, but also meaning; and as such one gains an opportunity to sanctify those moments. The chaos of a week without order, of days without set times, is yet another manifestation of the secularization of society and the profanation of the sacred.