Any education is replete with those who urge students to discard their ethical sensitivities in favor of what are termed the hard truths of human nature. More often than not, this approach conceals a fear of truly facing what trouble one’s hard truth is causing others, and goes hand-in-hand with limitations in one’s ability to help others wisely.
The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which questions are asked to a group of rabbis. One of the respondents is Rabbi Marc Angel, and here are his replies to several of the recent questions.
To ascribe quasi-prophetic powers to a small clique of Talmudic scholars is intellectually unsound. It undermines a thinking faith and condemns the public to sheepishly follow the opinions of an unelected group of “gedolim.”
Our religious consciousness may essentially involve, not an ability to find internal consistency between contradictory understandings, but the mental versatility to accommodate inconsistencies. We have warrant to sanctify our world with make-believe, carefully measuring that make-believe against a humane, responsible code of conduct.
These are the kind of people whose melodies sound old, but are really as new as the morning sun. May our people be blessed to find their special melodies and may we never become so afraid of each other that we fail to sing and share our special songs.
Our lives should not be viewed as a contest to take as much as we can and to give as little as we can get away with. Rather, life is an adventure of human interrelationships where we all win when we all do our share. To walk in freedom and dignity, we need to avoid eating "the bread of shame".
Many of the central themes in the Haggadah are rooted in biblical thought. Among other teachings, the exodus forms the basis for the singular covenantal relationship between God and Israel; it highlights God’s greatness in history; and it serves as the model for the future redemption. In this essay, we will survey examples from various sections of Tanakh to see how these and related themes are developed.
There is one supreme God who is the Creator of all nature, and there are no forces competing with God. God is absolutely free. God is timeless, ageless, nonphysical, and eternal. Nature is a stage on which God expresses His will in history. Rituals do not harness independent magical powers and do not work automatically.
With Hashem’s help, this crisis too shall pass. Until it does, your health care workers are all braving this pandemic to treat the ill. So too everyone must do his and her part to protect the most vulnerable among us. In this pursuit, we are all healers and partners with Hashem in saving the world.
Thinking Jews should be standing up for a genuine modern Orthodoxy that insists on functioning in contemporary world-time. While facing modernity has its real challenges, not facing modernity will lead Orthodoxy into a cult-like existence-- out of touch with reality, out of touch with the needs of thinking and feeling human beings…out of touch with Torah itself.