On September 12, 2004, Rabbi Marc Angel delivered a sermon at the historic Congregation Shearith Israel of New York, celebrating the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation...and the beginning of Jewish life in America. Here are excerpts of that sermon, printed now in celebration of July 4--American Independence Day.
Primo Levi, (July 31, 1919-April 11, 1987) understood personally what it meant to be isolated, tortured, dehumanized. And he wrote at length about the Holocaust. But somehow, he retained within himself a calm and wise humaneness.
While religion should be the strongest force for a united, compassionate and tolerant humanity, it is too often identified with terrorism, extremism, superstition, exploitation…and hypocrisy. People commit the most heinous crimes…and do so while claiming to be acting in the name of God. Isaiah Berlin’s concept of pluralism provides a framework to be faithful to our own truths, while being genuinely respectful of the truths of others.
The Talmud records a poignant story relating to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE. This shocking account is generally studied on Tisha B'Av. The story isn't merely a reflection on past spiritual errors. It is a reflection on the nature of religious leadership...and the results of failed leadership.
Tseniut is not simply a system of prevention from sin. Rather, it encompasses a positive philosophy relating to the nature of human beings. While acknowledging the power of human sexuality, tseniut teaches that human beings are more than mere sexual beings.
Far beyond physical nourishment, breastfeeding highlights the mother’s role in shaping a child’s religious identity. Prophets and psalmists draw further inferences through poetic usage of the imagery to describe how breastfeeding confers identity and status onto a child. Finally, a relationship with God ideally is characterized by humility and contentment, paralleled to a weaned child with its mother.
This study contrasts the legal rhetoric regarding the abortion issue. What does the plain sense of the canonical library actually prescribe? And what is the view of that version of Orthodox Judaism that bases itself on the intuitive consensus of an elite group of rabbis through a kind of "continuous revelation"?
It isn’t easy to pray from the heart every day. It isn’t easy to teach about it either. As for a great many things, the hardest thing is often to decide how to start. What is the very best “trigger” to use at the outset, to engage other people in meaningful study?
Dr. Richard Grazi wrote this article in 2016. Although he begins with a specific discussion of Zika, he goes on to describe the halakhic and moral issues relating to abortion. Given the current controversies on this topic, we are reprinting Dr. Grazi's article in order to provide a broader religious Jewish framework for discussing this issue.
Prayer is hard! Even for those of us who attend synagogue services regularly, there are a number of fundamental impediments to prayer.