Articles

Kein baShamayim Hi

I must admit that I was taken aback when called upon to argue the case of the Bible. It has always seemed patently obvious. The Book of Books has stood the test of time for thousands of years, continuing to inspire multitudes irrespective of race, color or creed.

Beyond the Shore: Torah through a Western Lens

June 26th, 2015, marked the triumph of the LGBT community over political detractors in a drawn-out battle for social liberty. This victory was ushered in by what is arguably one of the most consequential decisions of social reform since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Constitutional right to same-sex marriage. As a 23-year-old observant Jew living in the United States, this ruling has deep ideological implications. A profound paradigmatic conflict has risen to the surface. Torn between two opposing philosophical perspectives, I have become the generational victim of a cognitive dissonance that I cannot simply slough off, and in the absence of an existential ecdysis, I am forced to confront the discord of my beliefs.

Report on our Campus Fellows program

The Jewish Ideas Campus Fellowship Spring Semester has begun! We are happy to welcome three new fellows joining us this month. From New York University fellow Danielle Panitch, from University of Texas Elan Kogutt and from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Eli Yoggev. Each brings a unique brand of Modern Orthodoxy and we wish them success in their important work.

Zealotry and Its Consequences: The Case of Yishai Schlissel

On Thursday, July 30, 2015, a Haredi former convict named Yishai Schlissel stabbed six marchers in Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade; a few days later, one of his victims, 16-year-old Shira Banki died of her wounds. Schlissel had been released from prison only three weeks earlier, having served for 10 years for committing a virtually identical crime in 2005. Although the stabbing made headlines, it was soon overshadowed by the murder of a West Bank Palestinian family, which was quickly attributed to radical settlers.

Reclaiming Orthodox Judaism

Orthodox Judaism has a powerful, appealing, and sophisticated message for world Jewry—and for humanity at large. Basing ourselves on the divinely revealed Bible, the authoritative halakhic system, and a worldview rooted in compassion and justice, we have succeeded as a world religion for over 3,000 years. We have weathered physical and spiritual attacks from external enemies; and we have been victorious in sectarian battles within Judaism itself.

Praise and Praiseworthiness: Thoughts for Parashat Pekudei

“And Moses saw the entire work [of the Mishkan], and behold, they [the Israelites] had accomplished it; as God had commanded them, so had they done; and Moses blessed them.” (Shemot 39:43)

The great 18th century economist and thinker, Adam Smith, distinguished between praise and praiseworthiness. In his book, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” (III.I.32) he noted that “the love of praise is the desire of obtaining the favorable sentiments of our brethren. The love of praiseworthiness is the desire of rendering ourselves the proper objects of those sentiments.”