When asked about Rabbi Carlebach’s music, Timothy Leary, that dedicated explorer of mystical experiences and expanded states of consciousness, is reported to have said: “If I had ever had a chance to listen to Shlomo’s music before I ever took drugs, I would have never needed to take them in the first place, that’s how powerful his music was!”
The resurgence of the study of Tanakh in Israel – in dati-leumi circles, in particular – has been justly welcomed as a most positive development. Constituting both an expansion of the horizons of TalmudTorah and an expression of bonding with the cradle of most of Tanakh within the context of shivat Zion, this renascence has unquestionably enriched and enhanced the spiritual life of a revitalized community.
Unfortunately, however, this enterprise has, at times, been accompanied by negative elements, as well. Perhaps most regrettable has been the tendency on the part of some scholars, students, or observers to constrict the content, scope and significance of much of Tanakh. Familiarity with the text, in one sense, has, in some circles, bred familiarity with the Scriptural narrative and the events and their protagonists presented therein, in another. The sense of reverential awe and the awareness of heroic stature may become jaded and replaced by what is cried up as “eye-level Tanakh study.”
To read more from Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein click here.
We are not always sure what to think of our Biblical ancestors. Sometimes their feats appear superhuman, and at other times their mistakes are too painfully clear. For the inexperienced student, this creates a certain cognitive dissonance, which may lead to hasty and forced interpretations aimed at creating more homogeneous characters. As a student becomes more experienced and sophisticated, he will likely become more comfortable with this lack of uniformity, realizing that rather than a weakness, the Torah’s nuanced portrayal of our ancestors is quite true to real life. Thus, if the Torah is trying to teach us about the lives of real people, we should not expect to read about artificially one-dimensional characters, as this is not the nature of actual men and women. While appropriately sophisticated, this realistic complexity still creates some confusion as we attempt to find a proper perspective on the Torah’s great figures. Continue reading “Excerpt from Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Genesis“→
Torah Mysteries Illuminated, by Thomas Furst, is a fascinating collection of original and thought-provoking Torah insights. Each of the eighteen essays in this beautifully published book explores a specific topic concerning Tanach, Holidays, Prayer and the Jewish Home, and each sheds new light on stories, concepts and phrases that the reader may, until this point, have never even considered. For example, in his essay titled ‘”Yom Tov”: What’s in a Name?’, Mr. Furst provides considerable evidence to demonstrate how the word tov refers to moments of divine revelation, and consequently, how the term Yom Tov refers to a ‘day on which Hashem revealed Himself to His people’. Then, in his essay titled ‘Shevet Levi’s exemplary character’, Mr. Furst offers a wide ranging analysis of how the word Achim is used with reference to Shevet Levi, as well as how Moshe & Aharon differed in their personality types, leading the reader to a clear understanding of why Moshe needed to be accompanied by his brother when confronting Pharoh, and why there is a need for both Kohanim and Leviim. Finally, as mentioned above, Mr. Furst’s examination of Adam’s first sin is nothing less than ingenious. I thoroughly enjoyed learning Torah Mysteries Illuminated and will certainly be consulting it on a regular basis. Continue reading “Review and Dvar Torah of Torah Mysteries Illuminated“→
Terror is a tool. The one who uses terror is the enemy. Do not degrade the memory of those murdered by turning them into victims of a force of nature. Words said at the funeral by the brother of Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin.
I want to tell you a little bit about Eitam.
Eitam was a jokester.
I know it’s surprising to say this at a funeral, and all the more so, about a rabbi and scholar who was headed for greatness, but he was a jokester, and that’s a good thing. If you want to be serious, you should also be able from time to time to make fun of yourself. A rabbi who doesn’t take himself too seriously is of great benefit to himself but also for others. The Torah warns us regarding a king “that his heart shall not be raised [above his brethren]”. This is the trap that awaits the rabbi too, the greater he is, the greater the trap. Eitam’s ability not to take himself too seriously, to make fun of himself and his world, was very important. Continue reading “Op-Ed: A Brother’s Eulogy: Do not call them “terror victims””→
The numerous shootings of many innocent people in the past few years, which have occurred in public places such as schools and movie theaters, have caused renewed debate and attempts at legislation regarding prevention or limitation of gun ownership, popularly known as gun control. This issue is especially acute in the United States, where the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”, gives each citizen the legal right to protect himself, even with guns obtained legally and quite easily. In 2008 and again in 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States issued two landmark decisions officially establishing the interpretation that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Continue reading “Excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values“→