Our Institute encourages members of our University Network to share their research. We are posting this article by Yehuda Goldfeder, that also appears in issue 39 of our journal Conversations.
Religious life entails participating in a community, observing shared rituals, following traditional patterns. It can happen that one’s individuality may seem compromised or lost in the process. The priestly blessing reminds us of the need to be part of the community…but to retain our own distinctive individuality.
Ever since the dawn of history, material possessions and wealth have been seen as posing basic ethical and spiritual problems. All religions, therefore, have had to offer some perspective regarding the scope and legitimacy of economic activity. Judaism is no exception in this respect, though it differs radically from all other religions in the answers it provides to the relevant questions.
A few spoons of inspired foolery can shape the way we view the world. In terrible times, dare we waste time on humor? Dare we not?
This article, originally published several years ago, sheds light on a tragic era for Iraqi Jewry--the "farhud" of June 1941.
Victor Hugo observed that “narrow horizons beget stunted ideas.” Classic Judaism has included an idealistic universalistic world-view. Judaism’s horizons have been great; and it has begotten great ideas. The challenge to modern Jews is to remain faithful to their distinctive mitzvot while maintaining a universalistic ethical idealism.
One of the most influential writers of Jewish philosophy, theology, and fiction during the early Victorian period was Grace Aguilar. A traditional Spanish and Portuguese Jew, her vast knowledge of biblical, and even some rabbinical, texts—as well as her highly Romantic prose—brought her works to a wide audience of both Jews and Christians.
On Shavuoth, as we celebrate the anniversary of the Revelation at Mount Sinai, we should direct our thoughts to that special moment in the history of Israel and to the ongoing lessons it provides to us in our own lives.
In a list of new developments in Judaism in the twenty-first century, one would have to include the search for Jewish spirituality. This includes the discovery of spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga, and prayer—often adapted from Eastern religions. In this essay, I will examine this phenomenon by employing a method of investigation that attempts to address contemporary issues through textual study called “Textual Reasoning” (http://etext.virginia.edu/journals/tr/).
During the Sefira period between Pessah and Shavuot, a variety of stringent customs have arisen. Prohibitions have emerged relating to listening to music, shaving, hair cuts and more. When did these practices arise and how are they to be observed today?