The very weapons with which our enemies sought to destroy us—those very weapons were used to spread the light of Judaism! The Maccabees were demonstrating that their victory was not merely successful in a military sense. Rather, it was also—and pre-eminently—a spiritual victory. The enemy’s spears were transformed into branches of the Menorah, bringing light into the Temple, restoring worship of the One true God.
There are worrying trends in American life. Yet we celebrate Thanksgiving with the faith that the American Dream has the power to maintain our country as a bastion of freedom and democracy. The American Jewish community has made—and continues to make—monumental contributions to American life in so many areas. We are grateful for the blessings of America.
Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks was the Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth.This excerpt is from his book, To Heal the World, and is reprinted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House. This excerpt appeared in issue 2 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. Rabbi Sacks passed away in November 2020.
This article on the Tower of Babel offers a “textbook lesson” in combining traditional rabbinic commentary with contemporary academic Bible scholarship. These two approaches begin with different sets of assumptions, but each gives us access to greater meaning in the Torah. Taken together, we emerge with a fuller picture than with either one by itself.
It is difficult to deal with enemies who are inveterate liars and cheaters, who claim your property as theirs, who have no compunction about committing acts of violence and terror. Such enemies need to be reminded that Pahad Yitzhak—the Fear of Isaac—is a fearsome God who will wreak vengeance on those who seek our harm.
Rabbi Daniel Bouskila replies to questions on Sephardic education. This article appears in issue 42 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
The Torah often teaches by overt prescription and commandment. But it also teaches by presenting problematic individuals and circumstances. In this week's Parasha, the Torah's literary imagery speaks louder than words.
We have always been aware of an under-current of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attitudes, but things today seem qualitatively and quantitatively different. We witness throngs of people throughout the United States and throughout the world who brazenly and unabashedly call for the annihilation of Israel and the murder of Jews. The public display of raw hatred is alarming.
People are greatly in need of a liberating religious message. We yearn for relationship with our fellow human beings; we reach out for a spiritual direction to the Eternal Thou. It is not easy to be a strong, whole and self-confident I; it is not easy to relate to others as genuine Thous; it is a challenge to reach out to the Eternal Thou. Yet, without these proper relationships, neither we nor our society can flourish properly.
The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals began as an idea, as a framework for reshaping the thinking within the Orthodox Jewish community and beyond. It has been a strong, steady voice for diversity, creativity, dynamism. It has been a strong, steady voice against authoritarianism, obscurantism, extremism and sectarianism. We thank our friends and supporters as we celebrate our 16th anniversary.