The disease of anti-Semitism has persisted through the generations and continues today, with all its false accusations, paranoia and dangerous consequences. How are we to cope with this deep-seated irrationalism? How are we to explain this to our children and grandchildren?
It is the persistence of this gap between ideals and actual behavior that has fueled religio-moral research into human behavior for millennia. How can it be that an otherwise observant person and pillar of his/her Orthodox community has been embezzling funds, breaking federal lobbying laws, or committing sexual improprieties, to name a few of the real-life examples of the gap we’ve seen over the past several decades?
I recently read of a phenomenon known as “inattention blindness.” When people are focused on a particular thing, they tend not to see anything that interferes with their concentration. For example, psychologists asked a group of people to watch a film of a basketball game and to count how many times team members passed the ball to each other. While the people were engaged in viewing the basketball game and concentrating on their assignment, the tape showed a person walking right through the center of the picture in a way that would obviously be noticed.
These are the kind of people whose melodies sound old, but are really as new as the morning sun. May our people be blessed to find their special melodies and may we never become so afraid of each other that we fail to sing and share our special songs.
Our Institute provides various learning opportunities--our online learning center, our youtube channel, our website, our publications etc. We also have upcoming classes/programs in East Brunswick, Teaneck, Boca Raton and Manhattan.
There are so many really nice, good, religiously observant people, who keep kosher and Shabbat and all the mitzvoth, whose kids go to yeshiva, who learn Torah and dress modestly. All this is crucial—it's who we are and what we need to do and it's keeping Judaism alive. Yet, sometimes, it seems like people lose the center and purpose of it all; a truly intimate, authentic, personal relationship with themselves and Hashem.
Judaism, let it be stated unequivocally, has a different view of guilt: Guilt is a healthy part of who we are. This sounds absurd, even crazy. But give the thought a chance to develop.
Far from being only a necessary skill for entering the work force or getting into law school, literature that includes the broadest possible range of voices and experiences itself fulfills a Torah value. Without it, we would be hard pressed truly to internalize the basic fact of God’s spark in every human soul.
The quest to understand the rationale that underlies the mitzvoth assumes that we should strive to articulate the spiritual messages of the halakha. By affirming our commitment to those laws whose reasons we may find personally or ethically challenging, we ensure that the Torah is, in fact, the source of our value system, and not simply an ancient text that validates the contemporary zeitgeist.
A review of programs--past and upcoming--in New York, Philadelphia, East Brunswick, Teaneck and Boca Raton. A reminder of the conferences and shiurim available on our website and youtube channel.