The Jewish Press newspaper has a bi-weekly feature in which a group of rabbis are requested to respond to the editor's questions. One of the respondents is Rabbi Marc D. Angel, and here are his answers to some of the recent questions.
Our National Scholar, Rabbi Hayyim Angel, published a new Book Review in Tradition (the journal of the Rabbinical Council of America) discussing the interface between religious Bible study and archaeology.
The Torah has a deep tradition for protecting what is now known as the environment. Reading our sources with an eye for environmental sensitivity, we find a wealth of connections and teachings that encourage us to protect our resources, care for our health, prevent unnecessary damage to our neighbors, show concern and respect for other creatures, and avoid unnecessary waste. These teachings can help us find solutions to some of the grave environmental threats that we face today.
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.
Rabbi Marc D. Angel wrote this short essay many years ago. With the announcement of the new peace plan, the message of this essay becomes ever more relevant. Will the leaders of both sides muster the courage to wage a real peace?
During the past several decades, policies on conversion have become highly publicized. Many who favor the lenient position become intimidated, and choose not to oppose the needlessly stringent policies that have gained credence within much of the rabbinic community. A situation of this kind is inimical to the interests of the Torah world.
Orthodoxy has defined itself as a single group having two faces. One is outward-looking, engaging with the outside world in all its complexity, while maintaining fidelity to Orthodox faith and commitments. The other is assertively parochial, defined by those commonly called Hareidim, who are assertively inward-looking, creating all sorts of ideological and behavioral barriers to acculturation.
Haham Gaon represented a balanced religiosity, deeply faithful to tradition while deeply sensitive to the needs and feelings of modern men and women. Haham Gaon was a model of dignity, compassion, and total commitment to the People of Israel and the State of Israel. As a proud Sephardic rabbi, he refused to compromise his own traditions in order to curry favor among others.
The rabbinic conferences in Morocco are the only example in modern times of a living halakha that responded to contemporary concerns with a united rabbinic front. These rabbis had confidence in their authority and didn't feel the need to look over their shoulders. Who knows what would have been achieved in Morocco had the conferences continued?