It is intrinsic to human nature to strive to emulate God, and everything that creates a distinction from God makes us feel uncomfortable. Therefore, seeing Judaism as merely a set of commandments creates a negative view of the human soul. The commandments are necessary, but only after a person moves freely in the direction of ideals. Self-restraint must stem from freedom, and not the other way around.
We should work toward a society that repudiates hateful words and deeds, where the haters themselves will come to see the error of their way. Those whose words are hateful generate darkness, mistrust, societal disintegration.
Those whose words bring light to the world are humanity’s only real hope.
Sukkot: Insights from the Past, Present, and Future (The Habura, 2022)
Our National Scholar, Rabbi Hayyim Angel, reviews two recent books on the interface between traditional and academic Bible study, with consideration of the religious ramifications of various approaches.
The article appears in the current issue of Tradition, the journal of the Rabbinical Council of America.
Of course, the Liberty Bell’s heading back out on tour won’t solve our country’s political, legal, and social challenges. But it can serve to remind Americans of the faith in our country’s unifying symbols and biblically inspired values, which have survived eras more fractious and violent than our own.
Freedom in world history and American history is tied to slavery. Slavery and the exodus from slavery are central to Judaism. Many cultures, do, or have, celebrated emancipation. But only Jews have a major religious holiday that is focused on enslavement and an escape from enslavement.
Rabbi Shalom Carmy discusses the nature of intellectual inquiry within a religious framework.
Berman’s book is an important contribution to scholarship and to our religious pursuit of truth in the context of Tanakh study. He challenges readers to examine critically the assumptions they bring to the text. Those who ignore ancient Near Eastern laws and narratives lose a vital tool to evaluate the eternal messages of the Torah.
We must face this problem squarely and candidly: The narrowing of horizons is a reality within contemporary Orthodoxy. The fear to dissent from the "acceptable" positions is palpable. But if individuals are not allowed to think independently, if they may not ask questions and raise alternatives, then we as a community suffer a loss of vitality and dynamism.
Judaism, let it be stated unequivocally, has a different view of guilt: Guilt is a healthy part of who we are. This sounds absurd, even crazy. But give the thought a chance to develop.