Many internalize “truths” because they submit uncritically to ideas promulgated by parents, teachers, or various other authority figures. Even if those ideas are based on error, people continue to believe them, promote them, and denigrate those who reject them.
On Shavuoth, as we celebrate the anniversary of the Revelation at Mount Sinai, we should direct our thoughts to that special moment in the history of Israel and to the ongoing lessons it provides to us in our own lives.
“Rashi’s Judaism” is certainly warm and comforting. But it is also disappointing to people who accept modern science as a route to truth, who reject superstition, who believe that all human beings are actually created in the image of God. “Rashi’s Judaism” is challenging for people who accept the values of liberal democracy.
Rabbi Hayyim Angel will teach a four-part series on the prophet Elisha (in II Kings) at Lamdeinu Teaneck in July. The classes will be held on Wednesday mornings, July 5, 12, 19, and 26, from 11:00am-12:00pm EST. They are in person at Congregation Beth Aaron in Teaneck, New Jersey (950 Queen Anne Road). To register, go to https://www.lamdeinu.org/register/
Religion produces the very best type of people: saintly, humble, compassionate, and genuinely pious. But we cannot help but notice that religion also produces—or at least harbors—the very worst type of people: terrorists, bigoted zealots, and self-righteous egotists. So religion has two faces: one that is righteous and compassionate; and one that is self-righteous and hate-filled.
Ultimately, the intersection of AI and Judaism offers a unique opportunity to explore how technology can enhance our religious practice while remaining true to our traditions and values.
Philosophers and theologians remind us that God is Eternal, infinitely beyond our comprehension. Rabbis remind us that God must not be—and cannot be—represented by any physical entity i.e. idols, pictures. If God is so vastly remote and beyond visualization, how are we to connect with God?
Rabbi Hayyim Angel will be the Shavuot scholar-in-residence over Shavuot at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, New Jersey. He will speak during the all-night Shavuot learning, as well as several other times throughout the holiday. Members and friends of the Institute who are in Englewood over the holiday are welcome to join. The synagogue is located at 240 Broad Avenue in Englewood.
This week, memorial programs will be held in Rhodes, marking the anniversary of the deportation of Jews of Rhodes in July 1944. Rabbi Marc D. Angel delivered this sermon on July 26, 2014 at Congregation Ezra Bessaroth in Seattle, Washington, when the community marked the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Jews from the islands of Rhodes and Cos, nearly all of whom were murdered in Auschwitz.
This week’s Torah portion has the only mention of “the book of the Wars of the Lord” (Sefer Milhamot Hashem). Commentators and scholars speculate about what was contained in this now lost book. Was it a collection of poems in praise of God? Was it a record of the Israelites’ wars? Who had access to this book? Who wrote it?