We post this article on the life and thought of Rabbi Benzion Uziel, one of the great religious leaders of the 20th century. When he passed away on September 4, 1953, he was mourned by hundreds of thousands of Sephardim and Ashkenazim, Jews and Arabs. A remarkable personality, Rabbi Uziel proclaimed that Judaism is not a narrow, confined doctrine limited only to a select few individuals. It must thrive with a grand vision, always looking outward.
At what point does charisma become dangerous? In a community (and a wider world) where an elusive quality called “spirituality” is constantly sought as representing the “authentic” in the religious quest, how can the individual, or the community, or the responsible leader, distinguish the teacher with integrity from the predator?
Nations, societies and institutions ultimately have the leadership they deserve. If they do not demand more, they have little right to complain. If they do not draw on their individual koah to combat governmental, religious and social evils, then they are accomplices to the evil.
In a list of new developments in Judaism in the twenty-first century, one would have to include the search for Jewish spirituality. This includes the discovery of spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga, and prayer—often adapted from Eastern religions. In this essay, I will examine this phenomenon by employing a method of investigation that attempts to address contemporary issues through textual study called “Textual Reasoning” (http://etext.virginia.edu/journals/tr/).
During the Sefira period between Pessah and Shavuot, a variety of stringent customs have arisen. Prohibitions have emerged relating to listening to music, shaving, hair cuts and more. When did these practices arise and how are they to be observed today?
Centrist Orthodox Jews are overwhelmingly not only pro-Israel but view the State of Israel as having religious significance and, thus, pray in synagogues that recite the prayers for the Welfare of the State and for the Israel Defense Forces. At the same time, some leaders of Centrist Orthodoxy have become increasingly assertive and acerbic, and they attempt to define Centrist Orthodoxy in more rigid terms.
(This article is excerpted from Marc D. Angel, Remnant of Israel: A Portrait of America’s First Jewish Congregation—Shearith Israel, Riverside Books, New York, 2004.)
We are thrilled by the creative programming of our Campus Fellows across the country and in Canada. Here is a brief summary of their latest activities.
Thank you all for your support,
Rabbi Hayyim Angel
National Scholar, Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals
Yona Benjamin, Columbia
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik is Orthodoxy's most eloquent response to the challenges of modernity and to the critics of Modern Orthodoxy. A Torah giant of the highest caliber, the Rav was also a world-class philosopher. In his studies in Lithuania, he attained the stature of a rabbinic luminary. At the University of Berlin, he achieved the erudition of a philosophical prodigy.
Ohav Sholom is located at 270 West 84th Street, between Broadway and West End Avenue. Free and open to the public. For schedule, click here