We are one nation, with many faces, and we have to learn to leverage our diversity and view it as a strength rather than a weakness. We might never be able to match China's demographics, but we can and should look for new opportunities for growth. That is why the time has come to undertake a concerted outreach effort to descendants of Jews.
We have a scandal in Israel relating to the evil practice that is spreading: the annulment or non-recognition of conversions performed by private rabbinical courts in their localities. These conversions are performed according to the halakha, with circumcision, ritual immersion in the mikva, and acceptance of the mitzvoth. This unprecedented aspersion of halakhically valid conversions emanates from Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.
Amtrak has the right idea – there’s a time and place for friendly conversation, but a Quiet Car and a minyan are not the place; a minyan certainly is not the time. Maybe we don't need rabbis to enforce decorum in shul. Maybe we should invite some Amtrak conductors and passengers to our minyanim. All aboard?
Rabbi Halevy’s writings reflect a conflict. On the one hand, he firmly believed that we were at the beginning of the period of redemption. On the other hand, he acknowledged that no one knew for certain how the redemption process would unfold. Rabbi Halevy evaluated sources about messianic calculations, natural vs. supernatural redemption, repentance during the period of redemption, and other matters relating to Divine Providence.
The Jewish Press has a bi-weekly feature in which several rabbis are asked to respond to questions. One of the respondents is Rabbi Marc D. Angel. Here are his answers to three of the recent questions.
Kamtsa and Bar Kamtsa
The Talmud records a poignant story relating to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE. Although historians describe various political, sociological, and military explanations for the Roman war against the Jews, the Talmud—through the story of Kamtsa and Bar Kamtsa—points to a moral/spiritual cause of the destruction:
Ezra raised new leaders and engaged the members of the community to take active roles in their spiritual development. He raised many disciples, thereby broadening the base of the leadership and also ensuring continuity rather than dependence on him. Nehemiah tended to occupy center stage. He portrayed himself as an indispensable leader.
I’d like to focus on the articles by Menachem Kellner on Rabbi Elhanan Wasserman and Rabbi Aharon Kotler. These two 20th century luminaries cast Rambam into the mold of a Hareidi sage. When they read Rambam, they understood him in a way that Rambam himself would have found problematic.
Dr. Sperber is President of the Makhon haGavoah leTorah at Bar Ilan University. Author of numerous works in Jewish law, custom and theology, he was awarded the Israel Prize by the State of Israel in recognition of his monumental contributions to Jewish scholarship. This essay, which appeared in our journal Conversations (issue 3, winter 2009), is based on a lecture delivered by Dr. Sperber in Los Angeles in May 2008.
The biblical book of Eikha (Lamentations) provides an eye-witness account--by the prophet Jeremiah--of the period of the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Eikha is chanted on the Fast of Tisha B'Av, so this is an opportune time to gain deeper insight into the meaning and message of this prophetic work. Rabbi Hayyim Angel provides a framework for our understanding Eikha...and dealing with tragedy in general.