Rabbi Emanual Rackman was a self-defined Orthodox Jew whose traditional Judaism was informed by and was synthesized with his chosen secular discipline, Political Science. He took God’s will and human dignity seriously, even when the two seem to conflict.
A few spoons of inspired foolery can shape the way we view the world. In terrible times, dare we waste time on humor? Dare we not?
Judaism includes the basic tenets of belief in one God, divine revelation of the Torah including an Oral Law, divine providence, reward-punishment, and a messianic redemption. The question for believing Jews today is, how should we relate to the overwhelming majority of contemporary Jews, who likely do not fully believe in classical Jewish beliefs? Two medieval models shed light on this question.
The current religious educational system encourages people to accept the authority of the major Torah scholars of the generation and to obey them unquestioningly, thereby creating a culture of dependency and submission. We must return to and deepen appreciation of independent thought, personal freedom and individual empowerment. Talmudic tradition and adjudication teach us that no Rabbi, no matter how great, is sacred nor should he be revered as a Lord over us.
Moses Maimonides died in early December 1204. He was a unique figure in Jewish history and has had an enormous impact on halakha and philosophy. He fostered a religious worldview marked by reason and clear thinking.
The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly column in which it poses questions to a group of rabbis. Rabbi Marc Angel is among the respondents, and here are his answers to several of the recent questions.
Every individual is capable of performing acts of great good and great evil; everyone is capable of causing great influence and making great change. Doing good deeds can be tremendously impactful even on the micro level. Acts as seemingly trivial as greeting a neighbor with a smile or holding the door for a stranger can completely turn around someone’s day.
As we commemorate Rabbi Hayyim Angel’s 25th anniversary of rabbinic service, we salute him not only for an amazing career as rabbi and teacher…but for being an exemplar of what a religious Jew should be. He is a clear-thinking and erudite rabbinic scholar, an inspiring educator, and a kind, sincere and thoughtful human being.
Nathan Weissler, a member of our Institute's University Network, has written a very important essay on the obligation of inclusiveness, especially in religious communities. His perceptive and personal account should inspire all of us to do our best to help our communities rise to the challenge.
For some critics, everyone in the world seems to have rights...except Jews. Every nation in the world has the right to defend its citizens...except Israel. These are positions which must be repudiated by all fair-minded people. These are positions which most surely should be repudiated by the victims of such views...the Jews themselves.