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University Network Essay Contest: The Three Winning Essays

Feminism, Orthodoxy, and Spirituality:
My Journey to Wearing a Kippah and Back Again
By Gila Heller
(Gila Heller is a student at Brandeis University.)


Torah min haShamayim: Conflicts Between Religious Belief and Scientific Thinking

Just over sixty years ago, the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists was founded to resolve "the apparent points of conflict between scientific theory and Orthodox Judaism."[1] The claims of paleontology, cosmology, and especially evolutionary biology exposed contradictions with traditional beliefs that were hard to overcome-so hard, indeed, that Alvin Radkowsky (an eminent nuclear physicist and leading member of the association) described the challenge as "a test of faith comparable to that faced by the biblical Abraham."[2]


Judaism Confronts Psychology


Psychology is the modern-day philosophy. If something is psychologically sound, it almost automatically becomes a desired reality that we should embrace. If it is not psychologically sound, it deserves to be dismissed, even if such dismissal contravenes religious norms.
Consider the matter of guilt. Psychology has just about convinced the general population that guilt is psychologically unhealthful; it raises our anxiety level, interferes with our blood pressure, and compromises our ability to function happily. The remedy-drop the guilt by dropping the values that instill the guilt.


O Tempora O Mores

Do not say that earlier days were better than these!

-Kohelet 7:10

 

My late father, Rabbi Kopul Rosen died in 1962, at the age of 49. He was a remarkably charismatic personality, tall and elegant, an orator and public speaker of a type and style no longer to be found. He was arguably the most influential and certainly the most popular rabbi in the Britain of his day. But he was also the symbol of a kind of rabbi and a style of Orthodoxy that has all but disappeared.


The Fertility Dilemma

When the first baby was born after conception in vitro, the news was extraordinary in ways that bear recalling some 30 years later. Few before then had imagined that human conception had been so distilled to its scientific essence that it could be captured in a test tube. When Steptoe and Edwards announced their stunning accomplishment to a captivated global audience, those listening could only wonder where the new science of in vitro fertilization would take humanity.


Rabbi Efraim Navon, A 17th Century Turkish Rabbinic Leader

SOME STARS HAVE LIMITED OR TEMPORARY LIGHT; SOME STARS ENLIGTHEN AND INFLUENCE THE WORLD ALL THE TIME. IN THE JEWISH WORLD, THE GREAT SAGES ENLIGHTENED THEIR ENVIRONMENT BY THEIR ENORMOUS RICH TORAH KNOWLEDGE DURING THEIR LIFETIMES. HOWEVER SOME RABBIS ALSO GAVE DIRECTION TO THE JEWISH WORLD BY THEIR TORAH WISDOM AND HAD A HUGE IMPACT THROUGHOUT HISTORY BY CREATING NEW APPROACHES.

RAV EFRAIM NAVON BORN IN ISTANBUL WROTE THE MAGNIFICIENT BOOK "MAHANE EFRAIM" DEALING WITH THE LAWS IN TALMUD AND HALAKHIC LITERATURE. THIS OUTSTANDING BOOK CONTINUES TO BE STUDIED IN THE EAST AND WEST, AND IN THE YESHIVOT IN ISRAEL.


The Music of Chance: On the Origin of Species from a Jewish Perspective


The title of this article, “The Music of Chance,” comes from a novel by Paul Auster, although that is the article’s only link to the novel. I chose this title because I would like to convey the message that even though life developed on Earth as a result of chance (as well as of necessity), which is one of the major tenets of the modern evolutionary theory, this fact should not scare us, as observant and devoted Jewish people. Randomness is entirely consistent with biblical and rabbinic sources. However, we should rethink our views on creation of life and humankind.


Single Women Who Want to Have a Baby

 

Question to Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rosh Yeshiva of the Hesder Yeshiva of Petach Tikva:

 

I ask you to bravely write an answer to a question that has been disturbing me very much for quite some time. I am a thirty-six years old woman, rather pretty, educated and well taken care of, who has been attempting for over fifteen years to get married, but to no avail…

 


Environmental Issues in Israel

Located on a landbridge between Africa and the Middle East, Israel is a small country with a wide range of climates, ecosystems and a unique environmental landscape. Within the span of just a few hours, it is possible to drive from the lowest point on earth and swim in the Dead Sea to the top of Mt. Hermon where you can go skiing all in the same day.

Before the creation of the State of Israel, the land was mostly empty and barren. The population density was low. In the last 60 years it has transformed into one of the most densely populated countries on earth.


A New Hearing for Kol Ishah

I.

The topic of kol ishah, the halakhic prohibition on men from listening to a woman's singing voice, is obviously a matter of concern for religiously observant Jews. Yet, there are various interpretations as to what exactly constitutes the prohibition. The present essay aims to clarify the prohibition, demonstrating that it is far less restrictive than is commonly believed.


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