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 15th anniversary.
This article discusses some cases, reflective of the educational approach of many religious schools and individuals, that are symptomatic of serious problems in the way our community transmits Torah teachings. The fundamentalist, literalist position—so vehemently criticized by Rambam—still holds sway among many Orthodox Jews.
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.
The terrorists were murderers, hateful and misguided individuals who believed that they would be rewarded in heaven if they murdered Americans. They were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of inflicting damage on the United States. But, there were those who justified the wicked and who condemned the righteous. They described the murderers as “martyrs.”
The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which questions are posed to a panel of rabbis, including Rabbi Marc Angel. Here are some of Rabbi Angel's recent replies.
Oliver Sacks (1933–2015) was dubbed by the New York Times as “the poet laureate of medicine.” His many years as a neurologist brought him into close contact with many human beings with severe disorders—and he seemed to learn from each of them. To him, they were not “cases” but real people, human beings whose lives had been seriously impaired, who still had something to teach.
Primo Levi, (July 31, 1919-April 11, 1987) understood personally what it meant to be isolated, tortured, dehumanized. And he wrote at length about the Holocaust. But somehow, he retained within himself a calm and wise humaneness.
The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which a group of rabbis respond to various timely questions. Rabbi Marc Angel is a regular panelist and here are his replies from recent columns.
The Talmud records a poignant story relating to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE. This shocking account is generally studied on Tisha B'Av. The story isn't merely a reflection on past spiritual errors. It is a reflection on the nature of religious leadership...and the results of failed leadership.
Tseniut is not simply a system of prevention from sin. Rather, it encompasses a positive philosophy relating to the nature of human beings. While acknowledging the power of human sexuality, tseniut teaches that human beings are more than mere sexual beings.