From the second half of the nineteenth century, Haskalah ideas filtered into the Sephardic communities in Muslim lands, especially through the efforts of the schools of the Alliance Israelite Universelle—bastions of French culture. The influence of European colonial powers in North Africa and the Middle East was also an important factor in Sephardic intellectual life. The impact of the Haskalah could not be altogether ignored.
On Shavuoth, as we celebrate the anniversary of the Revelation at Mount Sinai, we should direct our thoughts to that special moment in the history of Israel and to the ongoing lessons it provides to us in our own lives.
The following articles, spanning over 30 years, offer reflections on aspects of
the theme, “Bridges, Not Walls.” They relate to issues of intellectual openness;
interpersonal relationships; and human dignity.
Orthodoxy and Isolation
Embracing Tradition and Modernity:
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.
Rabbi Uziel offers a Halakhic perspective which reflects a profoundly sympathetic and understanding spirit. Recognizing the practical realities of our world, it is essential that Halakhic authorities courageously respond to the needs. We have a moral obligation to convert those who seek conversion, not only for their sakes but for the sakes of their children.
We may explore the Haver Ha-Ir model by considering the teachings of four rabbinic figures of the modern period: Rabbi Benzion Uziel (1880–1953); Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903–1993); Rabbi Haim David Halevy (1924–1998); and Rabbi Nahum Rabinovitch (1928–).
Within the boundaries of normative Judaism, dissent is respected and even encouraged. But beyond those boundaries, dissent is not tolerated. Intellectual freedom gives way to the authority of tradition. A problem arises: What exactly are the boundaries established by tradition?
At least since the sixteenth century, Purim celebrations have included costumes and masquerade parties. Various explanations have been given.
Rabbi Dr. Sabato Morais