Blogs

The question about saying Hallel with a blessing on Yom haAtsmaut has much broader implications. Is halakha a closed system that operates solely within its four cubits? Or is halakha a system of life that responds in a living way to the realities of our lives?

At this historic moment when a visionary religious leadership is so urgently needed…we get, instead, divisive and extreme statements from Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef; divisive and extreme policies vis a vis halakhic conversion; divisive and extreme attitudes that serve to drive people away from Torah and mitzvoth.

Often, being frum is identified with being scrupulous in observing ritual laws—Shabbat, kashruth, taharat hamishpaha etc. But is a rabbi to be considered frum if guilty of rude behavior, if he regularly skips daily minyan, if he takes a full salary from the congregation but doesn’t work to his full capacity?

While all humans need affirmation from others, different people have different sorts of recognition hunger. Some are so internally weak, they need constant validation and applause. They seek publicity for themselves. They want to be noticed, and they ache when they are not noticed. It may seem odd, but it is often very true, that the most “popular” and “powerful” people are also the most lonely and insecure people.

I do not believe that Orthodox Jews are more dishonest than other people, and I like to think that Orthodox Jews are more honest. But why are we not surprised when we read or hear about Orthodox Jews accused of cheating or bribing? Why do we laugh at the assumption that Orthodox Jewish sponsorship guarantees the trustworthiness and honesty of a business venture?

The Jewish Press has a bi-weekly feature in which questions are posed to several rabbis. One of the respondents is Rabbi Marc Angel, and here are Rabbi Angel's answers to several of the recent questions.

With all the hundreds of millions of dollars that we have spent and continue to spend on defending ourselves, it seems that it’s never enough. All our defense organizations, museums of tolerance, holocaust memorials—while obviously having a positive influence on many—have not succeeded in eliminating hatred of Jews.

Our financial records are a clearer reflection of our values than anything we say. It is disheartening that leading American politicians—who earn far more than the national average of incomes—share so little of their wealth with charitable causes and humanitarian assistance.

The Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber (1878-1965) was among the most influential thinkers of his time. His writings had a powerful impact on the Swedish diplomat, Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961), who served as the second Secretary General of the United Nations, from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. They shared a great dream for the U.N.

As Rosh Hashana approaches, synagogues are eager to attract worshippers and new members. Recent issues of New York’s “Jewish Week” newspaper, as well as other publications, have included ads by area synagogues that promise “inspiring” services and sermons, talented cantors, special programs for children etc. Several hotels have placed ads attempting to lure customers to spend the holy days in their “luxurious and chic” facilities.