Mordechai is universally recognized as a hero, but it wasn’t always that way. Like many heroes, his acts of greatness were extremely controversial at the time. Were it not for the benefit of hindsight, many of those who admire Mordechai today would have opposed him.
Living a proper halakhic life creates a deep, intimate relationship with God. Interiority, humility, love of humanity, and a desire to improve society are proper manifestations of a righteous life. Authentic religion is not about showiness, disdain for others, or authoritarianism.
Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes taught that the ethical component is integral to the commandments. Judaism is not only blessed with a code of laws, but is inspirited with a code of ethics.
Zina Schiff, a concert violinist, has performed and recorded on five continents. Her first recording was the solo violin score for MGM's The Fixer, and a major focus of her 16 CDs is classical Jewish music. This article appears in issue 28 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. It was reprinted in issue 35 of Conversations.
The Bible has a singular vision for Jews and humanity. Beginning with the unprecedented declaration in the first chapter of Genesis that all people are created in God’s Image (Genesis 1:26–27), the Torah and prophets present a program for Israel and humanity that can bring about a redeemed, harmonious, religious-ethical world.
Rabbi Hayyim Angel offers words of tribute in memory of Stephen Neuwirth.
It is with great sadness that we record the untimely passing of Stephen Neuwirth, board member and major supporter of our Institute since its inception in 2007. Stephen was a well-respected attorney, a community leader, philanthropist…a really fine human being.
When teachers explain Midrashim as literal and as binding traditions, they misinterpret the biblical text, the intent of the rabbis’ statements, and the breathtaking diversity of rabbinic interpretations.
In modern times, Tu B'Shvat has been revitalized as a time to celebrate the fruitfulness of the land of Israel, the remarkable achievements of modern Israeli agriculture and environmentalism, and the re-foresting of the land. The day is marked by eating fruits grown in Israel.
Social justice lies at the very heart of the Torah. God holds all nations accountable for morality, including Israel. Israel’s being God’s Chosen People places additional responsibility onto Israel to serve as the model moral nation for the world. God rejects religious rituals when they are unaccompanied by a righteous, moral lifestyle.