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.
The Jewish Press has a bi-weekly feature in which questions are posed to a group of rabbis. One of the respondents is Rabbi Marc D. Angel. Here are his responses to several recent questions.
The disease of anti-Semitism has persisted through the generations and continues today, with all its false accusations, paranoia and dangerous consequences. How are we to cope with this deep-seated irrationalism? How are we to explain this to our children and grandchildren?
Rabbi Solomon Maimon, long time leader of the Sephardic community in Seattle, has passed away at the age of 100. The community had celebrated Rabbi Maimon's 100th birthday a few months ago. For that occasion his nephew, Rabbi Marc Angel, wrote words of tribute...and we reprint those words in Rabbi Maimon's memory.
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.
Kamtsa and Bar Kamtsa
The Talmud records a poignant story relating to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE. Although historians describe various political, sociological, and military explanations for the Roman war against the Jews, the Talmud—through the story of Kamtsa and Bar Kamtsa—points to a moral/spiritual cause of the destruction:
I’d like to focus on the articles by Menachem Kellner on Rabbi Elhanan Wasserman and Rabbi Aharon Kotler. These two 20th century luminaries cast Rambam into the mold of a Hareidi sage. When they read Rambam, they understood him in a way that Rambam himself would have found problematic.
The Jewish Press publishes a bi-weekly feature in which several rabbis are asked questions relating to Jewish observance and Jewish values. One of the respondents is Rabbi Marc D. Angel. Here are Rabbi Angel's responses to the first 4 questions in this series of articles.
Nations, societies and institutions ultimately have the leadership they deserve. If they do not demand more, they have little right to complain. If they do not draw on their individual koah to combat governmental, religious and social evils, then they are accomplices to the evil.
(This article is excerpted from Marc D. Angel, Remnant of Israel: A Portrait of America’s First Jewish Congregation—Shearith Israel, Riverside Books, New York, 2004.)