Maimonides (d. 1204) tolerated no idea that failed the test of reason. An ancient and robust tradition of superstition among the Jews did not deter him. Maimonides either ignored or rationalized scores of Talmudic halachot based on astrology, demonology, and magic.
Maimonides denounced astrology passionately, despite its popularity, calling the belief “stupidity” and its practitioners “fools.” His argument bears emphasis: Maimonides opposed astrology primarily on scientific rather than religious grounds. The Torah prohibits divination from the sky, he ruled, not because it displays a lack of faith in God, but simply because it is false.
Certainly the study of Kabbalah(esoteric literature) is authentic and part of the Torah. We know that the great Rabbis that we all revere—the Ramban, Rav Moshe Cordovero, the Ramchal, the Wilna Gaon, Rav Shneur Zalman (Chabad), the Malbim, Rav Chaim Wolozhin, Rav Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad--and many other luminaries spent many hours in its study and produced brilliant literature. Beyond that, didn't Chazzal (Chagiga 13a) themselves deal with these subjects?
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
RABBI STEWART WEISS
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
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".
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.
Changing the Immutable
By Dr. Marc Shapiro
Since time began, since the more intelligent men and women realized they had ideas they could not share with others, yet they had to speak, they learnt to lie.
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.
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.