Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks was the Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth.This excerpt is from his book, To Heal the World, and is reprinted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House. This excerpt appeared in issue 2 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. Rabbi Sacks passed away in November 2020.
Rabbi Hayyiim Angel offers important insights on the Prophet Malachi and on the nature of prophecy itself. Rabbi H. Angel's book on Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi can be ordered through the online store of our Institute https://www.jewishideas.org/haggai-zechariah-and-malachi-prophecy-age-un...
The very weapons with which our enemies sought to destroy us—those very weapons were used to spread the light of Judaism! The Maccabees were demonstrating that their victory was not merely successful in a military sense. Rather, it was also—and pre-eminently—a spiritual victory. The enemy’s spears were transformed into branches of the Menorah, bringing light into the Temple, restoring worship of the One true God.
Increasing lights is an appealing concept, both aesthetically and spiritually. When we cast light on a problem, we clarify the issues. The more light we enjoy, the less we succumb to shadows and illusions.It is all too easy to make mistaken judgments by chasing shadows rather than realities.
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We must, however, ask ourselves how our halakhic system treats people who do not believe, and are not expected to believe, that this system applies to them. To this, our answer is that such people are not to be held liable or excluded as a result of their non-compliance with this system. Omer mutar accurately describes today’s reality. It is perfectly descriptive and non-judgmental, and should be a major part of our inclusive discourse.
How is wonder supposed to help us overcome the decisive religious and theological questions that we often grapple with? For Rabbi A. J. Heschel, the sense of wonder is so overwhelming that it conquers our doubts and questions about evil and meaning in a world that often seems absurd. Significantly, he is not on a quest to ultimate solutions, but rather “to find ourselves as part of a context of meaning.”
Within the Orthodox world, reverence toward heroes and the Sages must be balanced with fidelity to the biblical text, commitment to prophetic integrity, and commitment to truth in scholarship. The Torah teaches both particularistic and universalistic values, and it is critical to adopt both in a faithful religious worldview.
Even before the current pandemic, some had the feeling that "large synagogues" were facing serious problems. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein wrote an important article highlighting the importance of large synagogues. Looking beyond the pandemic era, we need to think carefully about our synagogues...and our community as a whole.
Rabbi Dr. Sabato Morais (April 13, 1823-November 11, 1897) was described by a New York Yiddish newspaper as “without doubt…the greatest of all Orthodox rabbis in the United States.” This encomium was written several years after the death of Morais, when a full picture of his life and accomplishments could be written with historical perspective. Today he is hardly remembered...but he should be!