This tiny virus forces us to admit that our self-assured sense of health is a farce, and that our certainty of being able to breathe, walk, speak and think, come what may, is all wishful thinking. How wise were the sages of Israel when they instituted the custom of making a blessing on almost anything, whether it is eating, drinking, observing natural phenomena, or smelling extravagant aromas.
Words of eulogy by Rabbi Marc Angel, in tribute to a fine rabbi, good friend, and wise communal leader: Rabbi Dr. Chaim Wakslak
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.
THE INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH IDEAS AND IDEALS NEEDS YOU!
This article discusses some cases, reflective of the educational approach of many religious schools and individuals, that are symptomatic of serious problems in the way our community transmits Torah teachings. The fundamentalist, literalist position—so vehemently criticized by Rambam—still holds sway among many Orthodox Jews.
In this article, originally appearing in issue 10 of our journal Conversations, Dr. Zvi Zohar discusses the rise in extremist positions relating to conversion to Judaism. We are re-posting the article in light of ongoing tragic situations where halakhically valid conversions are being rejected or annulled.
Jews have had a continuous presence in Greece for over 2,300 years, dating back to the time of Alexander the Great. This ancient community, known as Romaniote Jews, has the distinction of the longest, continuous Jewish presence in the European Diaspora. Romaniotes possess a unique set of practices, poetry, songs, and traditions unlike any other Jewish community in the world. Yet this historic and incredibly rich tradition is under threat.
Tanakh is not a systematic theology, science, or history. We treat nearly all of Tanakh as historical, but God did not reveal prophecies to the prophets in order to teach science or history. God is speaking to us, and it is our religious obligation to hear, understand, and listen to that voice. We take all of the texts seriously, even if some of them may be understood as non-literal.
Genetic disease testing panels have expanded from just Tay-Sachs to include many more diseases common in Ashkenazi Jews, as well as those common in people with Sephardi and Mizrahi ancestry. These advances make screening relevant for Jews of all backgrounds, converts who do not have Jewish background, and people who do not know their ancestry.
Rav Saban, like Rav Uziel, sought reasonable halakhic solutions to contemporary problems. Voices like theirs are very much needed today.