Min haMuvhar

Drawing on the Wisdom of Isaiah Berlin

While religion should be the strongest force for a united, compassionate and tolerant humanity, it often 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.

Thoughts on Albert Einstein

 Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was one of humanity’s greatest geniuses, a man whose mind plumbed the depths of universe. But his greatness transcended his being gifted with an extraordinary IQ: he had imagination; he wondered about things; he let his mind drift in new and unexpected pathways.

Righteousness and Self-Righteousness: Reflections on the Nature of Genuine Piety

Religion produces the very best type of people: saintly, humble, compassionate, and genuinely pious. But we cannot help but notice that religion also produces—or at least harbors—the very worst type of people: terrorists, bigoted zealots, and self-righteous egotists. So religion has two faces: one that is righteous and compassionate; and one that is self-righteous and hate-filled.

Rabbi Yaacov Huli: Author of the Me'am Lo'ez

These are excerpts about Rabbi Yaacov Huli (1689-1732) drawn from Rabbi Marc D. Angel's book, Voices in Exile. Rabbi Huli originated the Me'am Lo'ez, a Ladino biblical encyclopedia that reached many thousands of readers throughout the Sephardic world. In recent years, the Me'am Lo'ez had been published in Hebrew translation. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, of blessed memory, translated the Me'am Lo'ez into English.

Modern Orthodoxy and Halakha: An Inquiry

For Modern Orthodoxy to succeed in meeting its responsibility, it will be necessary for us to recognize that we are part of the contemporary world-time. We should have a blue ribbon panel composed of Modern Orthodox rabbinic scholars who will be willing to come up with specific halakhic rulings for our generation. If we have the confidence and good sense to lead, we may be surprised to find that many people are ready to follow.

Religion and Superstition: A Maimonidean Approach

Judaism seeks to bring us closer to God through proper thought and deed. Superstition seeks to circumvent God's power through the use of magical formulae or rituals. While Judaism demands intellectual and moral excellence and a direct relationship with God, superstition provides purported means of bypassing or manipulating God in order to ward off evil or to achieve some other desired goal.

Surprised by Anti-Semitism? Yes and No.

Although current manifestations of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are ugly and painful, we must take the long view of things. This isn’t the first period of Jewish history where Jews faced viciousness and violence. But long experience has taught us to stay strong, stay confident, stay positive. The challenge to our generation is to stand tall as Jews, to stand strong on behalf of Israel.