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.”
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.
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.
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.
While religion should be the strongest force for a united, compassionate and tolerant humanity, it is too often identified with terrorism, extremism, superstition, exploitation…and hypocrisy. People commit the most heinous crimes…and do so while claiming to be acting in the name of God. Isaiah Berlin’s concept of pluralism provides a framework to be faithful to our own truths, while being genuinely respectful of the truths of others.
Benjamin Nathan Cardozo (May 24, 1870-July 9,1938) was one of the greatest American jurists. He served as Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals from 1926 until his appointment to the United States Supreme Court in 1932. He was known for his calm wisdom, personal dignity, and his commitment to social justice. His speeches and writings were characterized by clear thinking and graceful style.