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Interpersonal Mitzvoth and Mitzvoth Between Humans and God

It is well known that all mitzvoth fall into two major categories: those between humans are God-bein adam laMakom, and those between humans and their fellows-bein adam leHaveiro. The question we wish to discuss here is which of these two categories is, as it were, more weighty. Formulated differently: If there were to be a clash between two different mitzvoth from these two categories, which one would prevail?

The Battle for an Egalitarian Israel? The Immanuel Case Chronology


Jews and Evangelicals: Reflections on a Recent Meeting

Are evangelicals interested in supporting the State of Israel because they are convinced that this support will help them convert more Jews to Christianity?

Orthodox Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin of Israel, the founder of the first orthodox Jewish center in Israel for religious dialogue with Christians in 2008, and Dr. John D. Garr, board chairman and CEO of Hebraic Heritage Christian Center, assembled a total of seventeen Jewish and evangelical scholars in Atlanta, Georgia for a two day colloquium to discuss this question and other interfaith issues. The results were excellent and a follow-up session is planned. I was one of the attendees and the following are my impressions.

Benjamin Disraeli--Englishman and Jew

I always believed in Dizzy, that old Jew. He saw into the future.
Winston Churchill

( A review essay on Benjamin Disraeli, by Adam Kirsch. New York: Schocken, 2008.)


Report on Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals--Activities in Israel

#000000">Shalom uvrakha. I hope you have been having a good summer.

We recently returned from a 3 week stay in Jerusalem. I spent a lot of time
meeting with like-minded individuals and organizational leaders, in
order to foster cooperative relationships between our Institute and
Israeli modern Orthodoxy. Below is a report on activities we have
already undertaken, and that we are expanding in the coming years.

Mathematics and Other Problems for Orthodox Schools

New ideas about the teaching and learning of mathematics present challenges for Orthodox schools. In part, these ideas about the teaching and learning of mathematics are challenging to any schools: teachers lack content knowledge in the subject because they have had insufficient opportunities to learn themselves; teachers are strained pedagogically to teach a subject that they learned differently as students; ambitious aims for subject matter learning compete with a whole host of educational issues that need no enumeration here. For Orthodox schools, new understandings about cognition and learning are particularly fraught.

Who Is (and Is Not) teaching in "Modern Orthodox" Schools: A View from Israel

During the past several years as an educator in the fields of Tanakh and Jewish studies, I have come across a prevalent and disturbing phenomenon: most of the religiously observant student teachers whom I have met are not at all interested in teaching in the mamlakhti-dati school system (the religious public school system in Israel). When the time comes for them to decide on a professional placement, they apply to secular schools, or to the new model of specialized dati-hiloni schools (religious/secular schools), or to pluralistic religious schools.

Rabbi Joseph Messas

Orthodox Jews like to claim that they adhere to an unchanging tradition of laws and beliefs. Based on this understanding, it becomes possible to decide who "is in" and who "is out;" that is, who is part of the Orthodox camp and who must be placed in a different denomination. The term "Orthodox" itself, which is not part of traditional Jewish vocabulary but actually comes from the Christian lexicon, was adopted in order to distinguish different types of Jews. Yet what exactly defines so-called Orthodoxy is not so easy to pin down.

Sounds of Silence

(The title and section headings of this article are taken from the lyrics of "The Sound of Silence", a song written by Paul Simon in 1964, and performed by him and Art Garfunkel.)

1. Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again

"Can you point me to rabbis or other leadership figures in the Orthodox Jewish community who have spoken or written about the moral aspects of the financial crash and the economic crisis? Is there a specifically Jewish ethical and moral response to what happened, relating also to the prominent role of Jews, including and perhaps especially observant Jews?"

Halakha and Diversity

Anyone who is even partially involved in the life of a traditional synagogue becomes aware, sooner or later, that there is diversity within halakha. This becomes even more obvious after one has occasion to participate in activities at several synagogues: it would be rare to find two congregations that follow identical praxis. Traveling abroad, the differences seem all the more salient. Yet most people I know seem to live comfortably with such diversity. Isn't this strange? After all, if there is one God who gave us one Torah, shouldn't there be one norm for all observant Jews?

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