Elie Wiesel, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, was not only to be a voice and a memorial for the murdered millions. His life’s mission was to serve as a conscience to the world, to remind humanity of the horrors of war and mass murder, to help humanity understand that there should never again be concentration camps, genocide, ruthless and merciless tyranny.
The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which several rabbis are asked to respond to questions. Rabbi Marc Angel is one of the respondents, and here are his answers that appeared in recent columns.
Although Disraeli was a Christian, a member of Parliament, a popular author, a confidant of Queen Victoria…his detractors never stopped seeing him as a Jew, an outsider, an interloper. He had to struggle against unceasing political malice and anti-Jewish malevolence. Instead of denying or de-emphasizing his Jewish roots, Disraeli flaunted his Jewishness.
There is much in Rabbi Sacks' essays to make us think. He tells us in his introduction that spirituality is not the same as religion, though the two are related. Spirituality happens when we open ourselves to something greater than ourselves.
Rabbi Heschel believed that spirituality was not simply an ethereal experience of the transcendence. Rather, it is a power that makes claims on us. It expects us to work for righteousness.
The folk wisdom and the intellectual wisdom of the Sephardim derive from the same roots. While differing in expression, they articulate many similar ideas. A culture is a living organism. It is to be expected that all who are part of it - whether tending more to the folk or to the intellectuals – will share in the culture's general worldview.
When I was a young rabbi, I believed that the classic models of Sephardic rabbinic leadership provided a responsible and meaningful example for all of world Jewry. Nearly 50 years later, I still believe this to be true. In spite of all the negative signs that abound, I still believe this to be true.
The opening of Lekh Lekha raises numerous questions. Why did God choose Avraham? Why was it necessary to choose anyone? Why does the focus of Sefer Bereshit suddenly shift from a broad universal focus to a narrow, particularistic one?
The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals began as an idea, as a framework for reshaping the thinking within the Orthodox Jewish community and beyond. It has been a strong, steady voice for diversity, creativity, dynamism. It has been a strong, steady voice against authoritarianism, obscurantism, extremism and sectarianism. We thank our friends and supporters as we celebrate our 14th anniversary.
While religion should be the strongest force for a united, compassionate and tolerant humanity, it often is too often identified with terrorism, extremism, superstition, exploitation…and hypocrisy. People commit the most heinous crimes…and do so while claiming to be acting in the name of God. Isaiah Berlin’s concept of pluralism provides a framework to be faithful to our own truths, while being genuinely respectful of the truths of others.