One might attend various synagogues and find the same general liturgy and customs—but in one synagogue one feels ignored or rebuffed, and in another synagogue one feels warmly received and appreciated. Which would you choose to attend and support?
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.
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.
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.
David Weinberg, a writer for the Jerusalem Post, has recommended his top 25 Jewish books from 2022-2023. Rabbi Hayyim Angel's recent Psalms Companion is on the list, as are several other excellent reads.
See his article here.
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.
Your partnership in the work of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals is much appreciated. Together, we foster an intellectually vibrant, compassionate and inclusive Orthodox Judaism. We have made tremendous progress since we opened the Institute in 2007—but there is so much more that needs to be done.
Our Haggadah—with its core over 1,000 years old—takes us on a remarkable journey that combines narrative and observance into an intellectual and experiential event for people of all ages and backgrounds. In this manner, we travel alongside our ancestors from freedom to slavery to redemption.
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.
There are numerous ways in which a person can stand up for a principle. It can be through action or inaction, speech or silence, song or march, it can be overt or even an internal stand known only to the principled actor.