Articles

Dogma, Heresy, and Classical Debates: Creating Jewish Unity in an Age of Confusion

Judaism includes the basic tenets of belief in one God, divine revelation of the Torah including an Oral Law, divine providence, reward-punishment, and a messianic redemption. The question for believing Jews today is, how should we relate to the overwhelming majority of contemporary Jews, who likely do not fully believe in classical Jewish beliefs? Two medieval models shed light on this question.

Embracing Tradition and Modernity: The Religious Vision of Rabbi Haim David Halevi

Rabbi Halevi was fairly conservative within classical sources, and deferential to his predecessors. At the same time, he emphasized the inherent flexibility in halakhah, since there are many options within the boundaries of halakhic discourse. If one shuts down legitimate options, one harms the Jewish people and observance.

Biblical Models of Integrity and Models of Compromise

Tanakh teaches a principled, religious morality. The prophets and their followers stood tall and spoke out against tyranny and immorality. Others, however, compromised principle and attempted to find a “balanced” way of juggling morality and other less positive values. Biblical Mordekhai is one of the paragons of the ideal religious position, defying the evil Haman while everyone else fell over in obeisance.

Wrestling with the God of Revelation

The religious adventure requires not just that we read the Bible, but that we read a moral Bible, a Bible that preaches love and obligation and care for those who are in need. This is also consonant with a rigorous oral tradition that is not in fact committed to applying literal understandings of the Torah, but is already in the market, so to speak, of creative normative applications of divine texts.

Galut, Self-Defense, and Political Zionism in the Halakhic Thought of Rabbi Ya’akov Moshe Toledano

In this article, Dr. Zvi Zohar presents and analyzes concepts of Galut and of the modern Return to Zion found in a seminal responsum composed by Rabbi Ya’akov Moshe Toledano (1880–1960). Born in Tiberias, scion of an illustrious Sephardic family in Meknès, Rabbi Toledano served as Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv from 1942 until his death.