You do things that shouldn’t be able to be done. You endure things that shouldn’t be put up with. That is part of the existential job description of what it means to be a Jew. And I cannot imagine a greater privilege than the opportunity to be part of it all.
In his over 10 years of service to our Institute, Rabbi Hayyim Angel has reached thousands of people through his classes, publications, YouTube programs and more. In celebration of the occasion, the autumn 2024 issue of Conversations will include a collection of his articles. Please join in honoring Rabbi Hayyim Angel by contributing to a Scroll of Honor that will be included in this special issue of Conversations.
Rabbi Moshe Shamah is founder of the Sephardic Institute in Brooklyn, which he actively heads. Rabbi Shamah published a commentary on the Torah: Recalling the Covenant: A Contemporary Commentary on the Five Books of the Torah (Ktav, 2011). This is a lightly edited and abridged version of Rabbi Shamah’s two-part essay, “On Interpreting Midrash,” in his Commentary, pp. 336–358. It appears in Issue 15 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
This article by Rabbi Hayyim Angel explores the approaches of the yeshiva and the academy to Tanakh study. We will define the yeshiva broadly to include any traditional religious Jewish setting, be it the synagogue, study hall, adult education class, seminary, or personal study. In contrast, the academy is any ostensibly neutral scholarly setting, primarily universities and colleges, which officially is not committed to a particular set of religious beliefs.
Ever since the dawn of history, material possessions and wealth have been seen as posing basic ethical and spiritual problems. All religions, therefore, have had to offer some perspective regarding the scope and legitimacy of economic activity. Judaism is no exception in this respect, though it differs radically from all other religions in the answers it provides to the relevant questions.
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.
Rabbi Marc Angel presents some thoughts on Rambam's teachings, and on a book by Menachem Kellner and David Gillis, "Maimonides the Universalist: The Ethical Horizons of the Mishneh Torah."
Social justice lies at the very heart of the Torah. God holds all nations accountable for morality, including Israel. Israel’s being God’s Chosen People places additional responsibility onto Israel to serve as the model moral nation for the world. God rejects religious rituals when they are unaccompanied by a righteous, moral lifestyle.
Professor Joshua Berman (Bar-Ilan University) recently published a very important book on the interface between critical biblical scholarship and traditional Jewish faith. I reviewed his book in Tradition (Spring 2020), the journal of the Rabbinical Council of America. Enjoy the review, and I recommend the book!
Rabbi Hayyim Angel
Freedom is not static but is a process. The first step and ongoing challenge is to remember and insist: we have names, families, and historical context.