As we approach Pessah, all of us are deeply concerned by the Covid 19 pandemic. We worry about health…physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, financial etc. Most of us are sheltering in place; our world is contracting.
Thinking Jews should be standing up for a genuine modern Orthodoxy that insists on functioning in contemporary world-time. While facing modernity has its real challenges, not facing modernity will lead Orthodoxy into a cult-like existence-- out of touch with reality, out of touch with the needs of thinking and feeling human beings…out of touch with Torah itself.
Our grandparents and parents and their generations left us a powerful legacy of memories, values and ideals. As we draw strength and wisdom from their lives, we face the present and the future with increasing confidence. We can’t go home again, but neither can we ever really leave home.
One of the great writers of the 20th century, himself a Holocaust survivor, was Primo Levi. In his book, Other Peoples’ Trades, he reminisces about his childhood home in Turin, Italy. In his nostalgic description, he remembers how his father would enter the house and put his umbrella or cane in a receptacle near the front door. In providing other details of the entrance way to the house, Primo Levi mentions that for many years “there hung from a nail a large key whose purpose everyone had forgotten but which nobody dared throw away (p. 13).”
Rabbi Marc D. Angel wrote this short essay many years ago. With the announcement of the new peace plan, the message of this essay becomes ever more relevant. Will the leaders of both sides muster the courage to wage a real peace?
The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which a group of rabbis are requested to respond to the editor's questions. One of the respondents is Rabbi Marc D. Angel, and here are his answers to some of the recent questions.
Judaism offers two pathways to the Almighty: the Torah and Nature. Rabbi Marc Angel explores these themes in his book, The Rhythms of Jewish Living, and this is an excerpt from that book. The book may be ordered on this link: https://www.jewishideas.org/rhythms-jewish-living-sephardic-exploration-judaisms-spirituality
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.
Haham Gaon represented a balanced religiosity, deeply faithful to tradition while deeply sensitive to the needs and feelings of modern men and women. Haham Gaon was a model of dignity, compassion, and total commitment to the People of Israel and the State of Israel. As a proud Sephardic rabbi, he refused to compromise his own traditions in order to curry favor among others.
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.