Articles

Can We Build Bridges Both to the Left and to the Right—Simultaneously?

“Excuse me for a moment; I need to take this call,” I said to the rabbis I was meeting with at an important convention for Hareidi professionals dealing with practical halakhic issues and public policy. I had just stopped by the convention to meet some of the rabbis who had taught me and mentored me over the years. I was sitting with my main mentor—a Yeshivishe, Litvishe Rav—and his friend, a close associate of some of the Hareidi rabbinic authorities.

Empowering Local Rabbis: Revisiting the Conversion Issue

The Israeli government recently moved to decentralize the conversion system by allowing local courts to convert individuals on their own.

Ironically, as Israel moves away from centralization, here in America the Rabbinical Council of America is enthusiastically embracing it. The modern Orthodox rabbinical organization recently reaffirmed its commitment to its centralized conversion system, which it calls GPS (Geirus Policies and Standards). Under the system, the RCA accredits only those conversions conducted under RCA’s batei din, or rabbinical courts, using the GPS process.

Since its inception in 2008, we have opposed this centralized approach. We still do today. Here’s why.

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.

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.

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 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.