We need to give members of our community space, at whatever faith stage they are, to experience that stage and to attain the convictions of that stage, free from outside interference, free from judgment, and free from any of the messages or behaviors on the part of others that might threaten their physical, emotional, economic, or spiritual safety.
My father’s voice was one of “moral grandeur and spiritual audacity.” He spoke out in the prophetic tradition, and we are proud that he represented the Jewish people to the world. After the devastation of Europe, he gave us back our souls, reminding us of the greatness of Judaism and urging us to study more deeply, pray with greater intensity, and always remember what we stand for.
As we fast and mourn the destruction of our ancient Temples in Jerusalem, let us also give thanks to the Almighty that we live at a time when Jerusalem is a thriving and beautiful city under Jewish sovereignty. And let us thank all those heroes of the Jewish people who have worked, and who continue to work, for the strengthening of Jerusalem and the entire State of Israel.
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.
To our members and friends,
Rabbi Kook’s writings are generally, but not always very mystical and difficult to understand. However, Rabbi Ari Ze’ev Schwartz’s book “The Spiritual Revolution of Rav Kook” unravels the writings with a new translation, with each chapter being divided into clearly stated topic headings added by Rabbi Schwartz, such as the individual, Torah, God, teshuvah, prayer, creativity, Zionism, science, and vegetarianism.
Generations of elementary day schoolers have colloquially called the Asher Yatzar blessing “the bathroom Berakha.” When looking at this Berakha through an understanding of modern science and medicine, its ancient wisdom truly shines.
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. This article appears in issue 12 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
Over the last 50 years American Orthodoxy has managed to
create a national community that is successful in the realm of
imparting knowledge, Jewish commitment and continuity.
Over the past years Orthodox rabbis convinced entire communities to
change their eating habits by refraining from “eating out” and to raise a
generation of Jewishly literate and deeply committed youth by sending
their children, at great personal expense, to Jewish day schools. It is precisely
these rabbis, on the heels of these successes, who can galvanize the