Tag: Judaism

Klavan’s Conversion and Kol Nidre

 

Kol Nidre is the prelude to the Yom Kippur prayers. Lewis Black called it the spookiest piece of music ever written. The tune and setting evoke fear and awe. The words, however, are quite a let down: uninspiring, depressing, and morally troubling.

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In the past, I have connected the blowing of the shofar to G-d’s blowing of his spirit into Adam; by blowing the shofar we are connecting to Hashem’s creation of mankind, showing that we understand our mission is to imitate Hashem in elevating the world around us, contributing our focused energy into the world, and […]

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  “In the midst of a society that wants to do away with Christianity, it’s easy to fall into the temptation of wanting to make our churches comfortable refuges. Being radically distinct and culturally relevant aren’t at odds. They are two sides of the same gospel coin. Jesus came and made his home among us […]

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It’s 2016, and we Jews have a lot to answer for. A political battle wages in the United States. On one side, a group powerfully desirous of government-enforced universal human love, understanding, and prosperity. On the other, a group that campaigns for the preservation of tribe and nation in a world ever more violent and […]

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The holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, is just about here, and instead of the Torah portion, I discussed Shavuot today with my Torah partner. Part of celebrating Shavuot is reading the Book of Ruth. I don’t want to take you through the whole story, but Ruth is IMHO a […]

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What The Reactionary Anti-Semitism Gets Right

 

flag-408317_1920Growing up, my South African father used to remind us American kids that “There are only two types of people in the world: Jews and anti-semites.” This used to upset us terribly. It’s patently false, we would think. Our experience shows our society to be tolerant and kind. Where in the United States is friendlier and more welcoming than suburban Atlanta? Of course, the specter of Leo Frank’s lynching always hung like a shadow in the backs of our minds. But that was a long time ago. Surely, that old hatred is dead.

But it’s starting to look like dad was right after all. From Islamists, to progressive Europe, to the dregs of the Alt-Right on Twitter, we Jews are surrounded by a resurgent tide of anti-Semitism.Which leads to the question my progressive neighbor likes to constantly ask: “Why do they hate us?”

When it comes to explaining Jew hatred, the safest course of action is probably to declare it an uncaused historical constant. After all, what can be the reason for a hatred that has spanned millenia, civilizations, classes, religions, and practically every other boundary that divides man from man?

Do You Believe in Fate?

 

Abraham_Lilien By Ephraim Moses Lilien אפרים משה ליליין.

In my most recent post, I shared my life-changing experience of sharing the beginning of Pesach with the iWe family. As part of that special time, they invited a rabbi — iWe’s study partner — for lunch one day. A Chassid with a twinkle in his eye, he sat across the table from me, and his wit, intelligence and humor were evident from the start.

At some point during lunch, the rabbi asked me if I believed in fate. I told him that I didn’t, that I believed in free will which would contradict the concept of fate. Then he asked if G-d knew what choices I would make and I said that I felt G-d could know those choices, if He wished to know. He then pointed out that if G-d knew what my future held, how could I have free will? Was my life not pre-destined? I was silent. He assured me warmly that we didn’t need to pursue that discussion, but I realized it was something I wanted to give a lot of thought.

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It was a total immersion into the experience of the Passover. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Baltimore and was picked up by iWe#2 son, then entered the iWe home, I stepped into a different world. In one sense, Orthodox Judaism was a foreign and unfamiliar world. This past week-end I did […]

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Rabbi Kasich Teaches Jews about Their Religion

 

KasichJohn Kasich: Governor of Ohio. Presidential candidate. Gentile.

Strolling through a Brooklyn neighborhood, he popped in to a Jewish bookstore to press the flesh and teach the assembled haredi Orthodox Jews a thing or two about their religion.

He began his lecture by dismissing the views of Ezra Friedlander, Kasich’s escort and a haredi publicist. When Friedlander noted that Moses is the most important historical figure to Jews, Kasich waved his non-kosher lobster-claw hand and said, “What are you talking about? Get out of here!”

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Last night I attended a wonderful men’s group where we consumed a wide array of single malts and bbq meats. #feelinglethargic. Over 40 of us ‘men of a certain age’ were provided an insight into how to better lead our family passover service, as we learned how to share stories which can impact the younger generation. If you […]

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I am familiar with the practice of leaving out the o in the word G-d by some Jewish writers.  I believe it relates to the idea of never erasing the name of G-d, and there are apparently rituals for disposing of documents with the Hebrew tetragrammaton on them.  (It may also be related to the […]

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Every week my children are encouraged to ask questions about the weekly Torah portion. My 11 year-old, Shai, asked me a doozy: “Why are there eight offerings on the eighth day?” I had never noticed this before, but there it is: Lev 9: On the eighth day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the […]

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Tonight and tomorrow are the festival of Purim. On this day, we celebrate our enemies. No, really. Who would remember Haman or Nebuchadnezzar or Amalek if they were not something that we Jews insist on commemorating every single year? In the case of Amalek, the Torah commands us to remember them (and not forget them) […]

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Rabbi Lapin (who, among other things, heads the American Alliance of Jews and Christians), reviewed my book. He concludes: I have no hesitation at all in enthusiastically recommending this remarkable exposition that springs from the heart and mind of one of the most effective spokesmen for God’s Message to mankind. Preview Open

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I doubt whether there is any point of theology that is not illustrated in or learned from a Bible story, or any Bible story the correct interpretation of which does not include at least one theological point. According to popular lore, Protestants and Catholics disagree because Protestants think salvation is by faith and Catholics think it is by […]

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It’s generally accepted among Christians I know that Judaism is today a faith not limited to bloodlines. But in the Torah (Old Testament) Jews seem to be clearly described as descendants of Abraham competing with various other tribal peoples. Even at the time of Jesus, enmity between Jews and Samaritans — who were circumcised and adhered […]

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