The centerpiece of Yom Kippur is the Avodah, a poetic review and, on some level, reenactment of the High Priest’s service in the Beit Hamikdash on that holiest of days. Our focus will be on searching for some of the Avodah’s spiritual messages often lost in its complexities. While some argue that spirituality and halakha are antithetical, I believe the reverse is true – spirituality gives halakha wings.
The United States of America is a constitutional republic, with a system of governance designed to prevent tyranny of government or the majority. The principles of good governance are rooted in the oral and written laws and traditions of the Torah, embodied in the Bible, Mishna, and Talmud, as elucidated and interpreted by rabbinic commentaries.
Freedom in world history and American history is tied to slavery. Slavery and the exodus from slavery are central to Judaism. Many cultures, do, or have, celebrated emancipation. But only Jews have a major religious holiday that is focused on enslavement and an escape from enslavement.
The Book of Jonah is a larger-than-life story of every individual who seeks closeness with God. There is a paradoxical recognition that the closer one comes to God, the more one becomes conscious of the chasm separating God’s wisdom from our own.
The "Holiday Reader" of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals was prepared by Rabbis Marc and Hayyim Angel. Part One includes a collection of short essays by Rabbi Marc Angel relating to Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succoth. Part Two includes articles by Rabbi Hayyim Angel on the Akeidah, the book of Jonah, and the book of Kohelet. We invite you to print the "Holiday Reader" and enjoy it during the course of the holidays.
Berman’s book is an important contribution to scholarship and to our religious pursuit of truth in the context of Tanakh study. He challenges readers to examine critically the assumptions they bring to the text. Those who ignore ancient Near Eastern laws and narratives lose a vital tool to evaluate the eternal messages of the Torah.
Rabbi Shalom Carmy discusses the nature of intellectual inquiry within a religious framework.
We must face this problem squarely and candidly: The narrowing of horizons is a reality within contemporary Orthodoxy. The fear to dissent from the "acceptable" positions is palpable. But if individuals are not allowed to think independently, if they may not ask questions and raise alternatives, then we as a community suffer a loss of vitality and dynamism.
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.
The view of history as a dialogue between humans and God means that God is continually speaking to us, and all innovations that bring forth progress in culture, society, and religion are not simply human invention, but also Divine Revelation. Therefore, they must be integrated into our religious ideas and not discarded.