Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935) and Rabbi Benzion Uziel (1880-1953) were towering spiritual leaders of Israel. As we commemorate the anniversaries of both of their deaths at this season, we recognize the ongoing impact of their work, their teachings and their leadership.
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.
This essay focuses on ideas and ideals, in the belief that without a clear and firm intellectual foundation, Orthodoxy will continue to drift in less than ideal directions. The hope is that if enough Jews take these ideas and ideals seriously, they will have strong impact in moving beyond the status quo and into a finer Orthodoxy that represents Torah teachings at their best.
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.
We post this article on the life and thought of Rabbi Benzion Uziel, one of the great religious leaders of the 20th century. When he passed away on September 4, 1953, he was mourned by hundreds of thousands of Sephardim and Ashkenazim, Jews and Arabs. A remarkable personality, Rabbi Uziel proclaimed that Judaism is not a narrow, confined doctrine limited only to a select few individuals. It must thrive with a grand vision, always looking outward.
At this time of crisis, we pray that Hashem will bless all of us with good health and wellbeing. I offer this interpretation of a passage in the Haggadah and hope it provides a framework for coping better. It originally appeared in this week's issue of the Jewish Press.
It seems to have become "politically correct" to speak of narratives, rather than to focus on historical truth. This tendency is blatantly evident in some discussions about Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. We are told that each group has its own narrative, implying that each group clings to its own version of truth and should be respected for its views. This approach--seemingly objective and non-judgmental--actually leads to the distortion of facts and undermining of historic truth.
At least since the sixteenth century, Purim celebrations have included costumes and masquerade parties. Various explanations have been given.
Although we popularly refer to the upcoming fast day as Yom Kippur, the Torah calls it Yom haKippurim—the day of atonements (in the plural). The plural form reminds us that there are many roads to atonement. Each person is different and is on a unique spiritual level; each comes with different insights, experiences, memories. The roads to atonement are plural, because no two of us have identical needs.