Into the Heart of the Fire

Over 20 years ago when I was the National President of the Australasian Union of Jewish Speakers we hosted Rabbi Avraham Infeld for a National Conference. Avraham was the first person to tell me that I should become a rabbi. “But Avraham” I said, “I don’t even know if I believe in God” and he responded to me, “But you love people”. That was before I started learning Torah and before Torah was the guiding light in my life. I was standing at the precipice of my spiritual journey that has opened out in different directions including through prayer, yoga, meditation, dream-work, inner child healing, relationship work, conflict transformation, spiritual direction, pastoral counseling & sexual healing.

Rabbis Gone Wild


This has not been, to say the least, a banner year for the Rabbinic
profession. Almost every month - or is it week?! - some new scandal hits the
headlines, giving rabbis - and by extension, all of Judaism
- a black eye. And these are not just minor offenses, like getting a bit
tipsy at the Shabbat kiddush, or forgetting if the eulogy is for a man or a
woman, or even taking a few liberties with the Discretionary Fund. No, these
are actually culpable crimes we are talking about, peccadilloes that scrape
the bottom of the Cholent pot, from voyeurism to adultery to larceny for
stealing synagogue funds to pay off blackmailers ready to reveal an illicit
liaison with an underage boy congregant. With an occasional game of naked

Stop denying it: Fanaticism is derived from the Torah

The events that took place over the last few days are a display of religious fanaticism. It is a sharp shift towards an abyss, against which the Jewish sages have warned us. They knew we have a strong pull towards this kind of behavior, that our Torah is capable of transforming into a deadly poison, and that those who act on its behalf can become murderous terrorists. At first, they turn against other peoples, but then, they turn against their own.

"The Torah of Israel has nothing to do with these murderous acts".

Unilateral Divorce against the Husband’s Will

1. Does Such a Possibility Exist under Torah Law?

The Torah (see Deut. 24:1) describes a divorce occurring through a “writ of [marriage] termination” (sefer kritut) given by the husband. Indeed, the Mishnah (Yevamot 14:1) states: “A woman can be divorced when she agrees and when she does not agree; but a man divorces only at his will.” Thus, there seems to be no way in which a woman can receive a divorce if her husband is recalcitrant.

Book Review of Rabbi Marc Angel's new book, "Rhythms of Jewish Living"

The Rhythms of Jewish Living
A Sephardic Exploration of Judaism’s Spirituality
By Rabbi Dr. Marc D. Angel
Reviewed by Rabbi Dr. Israel Drazin

Rabbi Angel demonstrates his well-known knowledge and writing skills in this very informative exploration Jewish practices. He offers details about and explains Jewish daily observances and holidays, the differences between Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewry, the unique Jewish use of time, halakhah, theology, history, sacred places, divine revelation and providence, confronting death with the right attitude and without fear, the significance of the State of Israel, the manner in which Jews highlight and celebrate family, how people can transcend themselves, and much more.

I’ll give some examples.

Israel's Chief Rabbinate: Time for a Change

I rubbed my eyes in disbelief when I read that Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has extended the ban on television and computers by decreeing that anyone using the “abomination” of smartphones be prohibited from leading prayers. Like most Israelis, I felt profoundly ashamed that a “chief rabbi” could seek to impose such primitive views on the Israeli public. Under such circumstances, is it any surprise that Israelis have utter contempt for the Chief Rabbinate?

The time has come for the vast majority of us, including nonobservant Jews, who take pride in the fact that we represent a cultured people which was at the forefront of enlightenment and civilization from time immemorial, to stand up and say enough is enough.

Book Review of Rabbi Hayyim Angel's "Jewish Holiday Companion"

Jewish Holiday Companion
By Rabbi Hayyim Angel
Published originally by the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, and then by Kodesh Press

Rabbi Hayyim Angel has rightly earned a reputation as being one of the great teachers on Tanach in our time. He has authored a handful of books and hundreds of articles on biblical and religious themes, and has garnered a huge following based on his 17 years at Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue and 20 years at Yeshiva University, where he has even taught classes on how to teach Tanach. His new book, Jewish Holiday Companion, is a gem. In a time of year when we are pulled in every direction at once, Rabbi Angel offers guidance and clarity in how to approach the holidays, both intellectually and spiritually.

Book Review: "Devil in Jerusalem" by Naomi Ragen

Devil in Jerusalem
By Naomi Ragen

This is a very well-written, gripping, and suspenseful novel that is based on true horrendous events among Jews, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, and indeed all people. Although depressing, the story needs to be told to protect vulnerable and insecure people from falling into the grip of cult leaders who lead innocent victims into believing that the cult leader is a “messiah,” a “god-like” figure, a man or woman who knows the ultimate truth, who is in conversation with angels and God, who is defending his gullible flock from demons, and aiding them to climb to loftier heights, to become what he or she claims God desires them to become.

The Failed Education of Jewish Second-Generation Holocaust Survivors

Religious mis-education engendered an egregious handicap for second-generation survivors. Theological implications of the Holocaust were typically ignored in yeshiva curricula and teacher-student discussions. Religious instruction consistently disregarded, and even censored, aspects of scripture that could have been utilized to reconcile some negative Holocaust experiences with religious doctrine.