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.
Rabbi Eliyahu Benamozegh of 19th century Livorno was a traditional rabbi…with a mind open to the untraditional. He was a rational, modern thinker…who fully embraced the truths of Kabbala. He was devoted to Jewish particularism…while fostering a remarkably universalistic worldview. He would not be constrained or confined by artificial intellectual categories. The ultimate unity could only be sought through all the available avenues of human thought.
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 Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which questions are asked to a panel of rabbis. Rabbi Marc Angel is one of the respondents and here are his replies to recent questions dealing with parent/child relationships, family responsibilities, the "agundah" issue, and use of social media.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was one of humanity’s greatest geniuses, a man whose mind plumbed the depths of universe. But his greatness transcended his being gifted with an extraordinary IQ: he had imagination; he wondered about things; he let his mind drift in new and unexpected pathways.
S. Y. Agnon, born in August 1887, was an Israeli author who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966. His writings are infused with deep love of the Bible, Talmud, Israel...the Jewish People and the Jewish historical experience. In this short essay, Rabbi Marc Angel explores some of Agnon's major themes.
Religion produces the very best type of people: saintly, humble, compassionate, and genuinely pious. But we cannot help but notice that religion also produces—or at least harbors—the very worst type of people: terrorists, bigoted zealots, and self-righteous egotists. So religion has two faces: one that is righteous and compassionate; and one that is self-righteous and hate-filled.
For Modern Orthodoxy to succeed in meeting its responsibility, it will be necessary for us to recognize that we are part of the contemporary world-time. We should have a blue ribbon panel composed of Modern Orthodox rabbinic scholars who will be willing to come up with specific halakhic rulings for our generation. If we have the confidence and good sense to lead, we may be surprised to find that many people are ready to follow.
Judaism seeks to bring us closer to God through proper thought and deed. Superstition seeks to circumvent God's power through the use of magical formulae or rituals. While Judaism demands intellectual and moral excellence and a direct relationship with God, superstition provides purported means of bypassing or manipulating God in order to ward off evil or to achieve some other desired goal.
For some critics, everyone in the world seems to have rights...except Jews. Every nation in the world has the right to defend its citizens...except Israel. These are positions which must be repudiated by all fair-minded people. These are positions which most surely should be repudiated by the victims of such views...the Jews themselves.