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.
At what point does charisma become dangerous? In a community (and a wider world) where an elusive quality called “spirituality” is constantly sought as representing the “authentic” in the religious quest, how can the individual, or the community, or the responsible leader, distinguish the teacher with integrity from the predator?
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.
Rabbi Daniel Bouskila describes customs of Moroccan Jews relating to Succoth. This article originally appeared in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.
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.