Zina Schiff, a concert violinist, has performed and recorded on five continents. Her first recording was the solo violin score for MGM's The Fixer, and a major focus of her 16 CDs is classical Jewish music. This article appears in issue 28 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. It was reprinted in issue 35 of Conversations.
The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which several rabbis are asked to respond to the editor's questions. Rabbi Marc Angel is one of the respondents, and here are several of his responses to recent questions.
The statement in Devarim that the nations of the world would exclaim “what a wise and discerning nation” was not merely descriptive—it was also prescriptive and obligated Am Yisrael to constantly maintain an image of being at the forefront of mathematical, scientific and theologico-philosophical thinking. Am Yisrael should never be seen as “backwards.”
Was my mother a success? Was she happy? Did she fulfill her mission in life? The answer to these questions depends on how we evaluate success, happiness and fulfillment in life.
Megillat Ruth is characterized by deliberate ambiguity. Not only are multiple readings possible; these ambiguities are precisely the vehicles through which the short narrative captures so many subtleties in so short a space.
Any education is replete with those who urge students to discard their ethical sensitivities in favor of what are termed the hard truths of human nature. More often than not, this approach conceals a fear of truly facing what trouble one’s hard truth is causing others, and goes hand-in-hand with limitations in one’s ability to help others wisely.
The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which questions are asked to a group of rabbis. One of the respondents is Rabbi Marc Angel, and here are his replies to several of the recent questions.
To ascribe quasi-prophetic powers to a small clique of Talmudic scholars is intellectually unsound. It undermines a thinking faith and condemns the public to sheepishly follow the opinions of an unelected group of “gedolim.”
Our religious consciousness may essentially involve, not an ability to find internal consistency between contradictory understandings, but the mental versatility to accommodate inconsistencies. We have warrant to sanctify our world with make-believe, carefully measuring that make-believe against a humane, responsible code of conduct.
These are the kind of people whose melodies sound old, but are really as new as the morning sun. May our people be blessed to find their special melodies and may we never become so afraid of each other that we fail to sing and share our special songs.