Rafael Medoff describes President Roosevelt’s dealings with Rabbi Stephen Wise as being manipulative, dishonest and expedient. Charmed by Roosevelt's commitment to progressive causes, Rabbi Wise (who helped found the ACLU, was a board member of the NAACP and was active in women's suffrage, labor and disarmament causes), found Roosevelt politically admirable.
The concept of the Chosen People is fraught with difficulties. Historically, it has brought much grief upon the Jewish people. It also has led some Jews to develop chauvinistic attitudes toward non-Jews. Nonetheless, it is a central axiom in the Torah and rabbinic tradition, and we therefore have a responsibility to approach the subject forthrightly. In this essay, we will briefly consider the biblical and rabbinic evidence regarding chosenness.
The Book of Genesis
The current policies of the Orthodox rabbinic/beth din establishment are causing anguish to thousands of would-be converts and their families; are turning would-be converts away from Orthodoxy; are de-legitimizing Orthodox rabbis and converts who do not subscribe to the "establishment" positions; are causing thousands of halakhic converts to fear that their and their children's halakhic status will be undermined.
How can an Orthodox Jew in today's world maintain faith in Torah in the face of the apparent challenges of natural science to that faith? Dr. Menachem Kellner examines Maimonides' approach to the issue and then proposes his own approach, one which relies upon reverting to what he understands as classic Jewish definitions of faith.
During the Covid 19 pandemic, synagogues have been closed for quite a few weeks. As we look forward to the re-opening of our synagogues, this is a good time to re-think the role of synagogues in our lives and how synagogues can more effectively serve our needs.
When we reach the end of days, the unity that we are currently missing will be manifest and the Great Faith will be the reality for all. Our task is to build toward that future by uplifting the world with our commitment to faith, to our connection to spirit, to love our fellow human beings and acknowledge doubt along the journey as a necessary companion.
Modern Orthodox Jews do not recognize Da’as Torah outside the bounds of Halakha. They look to specialists for guidance on purely secular issues. Da’as Torah has been on the wrong side of Jewish history in multiple occasions, failing the Jewish people at critical times, including during the covid 19 pandemic.
We post this article in memory of Rabbi Nachum Rabinovich, who passed away on Tuesday night May 5, 2020. Rabbi Rabinovich, who served for many years as Rosh Yeshiva in Maale Adumim, was an outstanding rabbinic scholar who combined vast Torah erudition with general knowledge. His PhD was in Philosophy of Science. His views on the role of religion in society are discussed in this article.
Judaism includes the basic tenets of belief in one God, divine revelation of the Torah including an Oral Law, divine providence, reward-punishment, and a messianic redemption. The question for believing Jews today is, how should we relate to the overwhelming majority of contemporary Jews, who likely do not fully believe in classical Jewish beliefs? Two medieval models shed light on this question.
Nathan Weissler, a member of our Institute's University Network, has written a very important essay on the obligation of inclusiveness, especially in religious communities. His perceptive and personal account should inspire all of us to do our best to help our communities rise to the challenge.