The obscure figure of Serah continues to remind us of the mystery of the generations, the need for intergenerational continuity and communication. The Torah only mentions her twice, but in a way that underscores the importance of linking the generations with a shared historical memory, a shared social context, a shared destiny.
The spirit of our Bible and biblical tradition is a source of eternal optimism for humanity. As bad as things sometimes seem, righteousness will ultimately prevail. Humanity will learn the virtue and happiness of living righteously, honestly, respectfully.
Discussing Politics on Shabbat; Military Service in America; Tuition/Day Camp Expenses: Rabbi Marc Angel Replies to Questions from the Jewish Press
The Jewish Press newspaper has a regular feature in which a panel of rabbis is asked to reply to various questions. Rabbi Marc D. Angel is one of the rabbinic panelists, and here are his replies to several of the recent questions.
The Torah makes it clear that the people of Israel have a unique relationship with the Almighty and a unique mission to fulfill. This does not preclude God’s relationship with all humanity and love for all who seek to live righteous lives.
Rabbi Hayyim Hirschensohn (1856-1935), who lived and worked in Jerusalem and in the United States at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, was born in Tzfat. His thought has intrigued many Jews who strive to combine Judaism and modernity, religion and life, thereby seeking to resolve the conflict between their firm commitment to Halakha and their growing openness to the modern world.
Rabbi Emanual Rackman was a self-defined Orthodox Jew whose traditional Judaism was informed by and was synthesized with his chosen secular discipline, Political Science. He took God’s will and human dignity seriously, even when the two seem to conflict.
Many internalize “truths” because they submit uncritically to ideas promulgated by parents, teachers, or various other authority figures. Even if those ideas are based on error, people continue to believe them, promote them, and denigrate those who reject them.
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.
“Rashi’s Judaism” is certainly warm and comforting. But it is also disappointing to people who accept modern science as a route to truth, who reject superstition, who believe that all human beings are actually created in the image of God. “Rashi’s Judaism” is challenging for people who accept the values of liberal democracy.
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.