Megillat Esther is among the most difficult biblical books to study anew, precisely because it is so familiar. Many assumptions accompany us through our study of the Megillah, occasionally clouding our perceptions of what is in the text and what is not.
While we modern Jews cannot hope to achieve the unity and self-control of the ancient Persian Jewish community, we can focus on the really big issues which confront the Jewish people, and think how each of us can be constructive members of our community. We can know when action is necessary and helpful, and when action is counter-productive and misguided.
We have to know clearly what we stand for and what we have to offer. We need to know the secular world very well and at the same time excel in our knowledge of Jewish heritage, spirituality and ethics. We need to offer high quality education for young people and enable new, inspiring leadership to emerge. But then again, it is hard to be a (Modern Orthodox) Jew.
Rabbi Haim David Halevy (1924–1998) was one of the great rabbinic luminaries of his era. A prolific author and teacher, he was a gifted halakhic scholar, a devotee of Kabbalah, and a creative thinker who applied Torah wisdom to the dilemmas of modern times. From 1972 until his death, he served as the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv.
At the Institute, we are proud to present a wide diversity of voices in our journal, Conversations; our website; and all of our programs and writings. These teachings educate and inspire Jews of all backgrounds to find avenues of entry to tradition that resonate most with them. Thank you for promoting and supporting this noble endeavor.
The Bible stories we learned as children have powerful and unexpected meaning when we study them as adults. Please join Rabbi Marc Angel for a 4-part series (on Zoom), on Wednesday mornings, February 2, 9, 16 and 23--from 8:45-9:15 a.m. (EST).
1. Adam and Eve: the beginnings of humanity—and a special thanks to Eve
2. Cain and Abel: dealing with unfairness, jealousy, rage
3. Noah: will humanity ever learn?
4. Abraham: the Akedah…a surprising lesson
Zina Schiff, a concert violinist, has performed and recorded on five continents. Her first recording was the solo violin score for MGM's The Fixer, and a major focus of her 16 CDs is classical Jewish music. This article appears in issue 28 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. It was reprinted in issue 35 of Conversations.
The novelist, Naomi Ragen, discusses her path to Orthodox Judaism. She reflects on ideals, ideas, frustrations, disillusionments...and hopes.
The life and works of R. Joseph Messas remain of great importance. He showed that traditional Judaism can encompass a great diversity of thought, and that even in matters of halakha, often thought to be the most "closed" of all Jewish disciplines, there is a myriad of interpretive possibilities to which we can avail ourselves.
Many years ago, a young lady came to my office to discuss the possibility of her conversion to Judaism. She was raised in Saudi Arabia to American parents in the American military. She grew up hating Israel and hating Jews—although she had never met either an Israeli or a Jew.