Don’t Pray, Communicate! A Book Review of Holistic Prayer

holisticPrayer1

To understand the newest book by Rabbi Avi Weiss one needs to tell a story that appears in the book, Holistic Prayer: A rabbi was once informed that a crazed woman was in the beit midrash (the study hall, which is sometimes used as a small prayer room). "She is standing in front of the Ark, the Ark is open, and she is babbling and gesturing wildly," he was told. "She seems to be mentally imbalanced. Perhaps you can go in and help her. The rabbi went in. As he sat quietly in the back, he could … [Read more...]

What Amazes You?

hagadah[1]

Tomorrow night people around the world will sit down with their family and friends and partake in the Passover seder. The seder is perhaps the oldest continuously practiced ritual unbroken throughout the generations. Throughout time and place it has adopted various new customs and adapted old ones but the essential component remains the same: the retelling of the Exodus. The great formative narrative of the Children of Israel, in which God with an outstretched arm and a mighty hand redeemed the … [Read more...]

Conversion As An Act of Kindness

path

Conversion to Judaism is noble process that represents a person's desire to find shelter under the wings of the Divine Presence as manifested through the unique pathway of the Covenant at Sinai.1 For a long period of Jewish history it took quite an exceptional person indeed to seek out conversion to Judaism. Jews lived in bitter and harsh conditions, suffering persecution and discrimination at the hands of almost every country they found themselves in. Hence, the Talmud teaches that when a … [Read more...]

The Exodus and Miraculous Realism

Egyptian slaves

This past weekend Jews throughout the world celebrated the beginning of Pesach, the Passover holiday, by embarking on the ancient rituals of the seder. The seder, with its rich symbolic actions and accompanying powerful text from the Haggadah, is an entryway into the psychological, emotional and spiritual experience of the Exodus. Indeed, this is the very point of having the seder, as the early rabbis taught: "In every generation, one is obligated to see oneself as having left Egypt. (Pesachim … [Read more...]

A Philosophy of Jewish Law

halacha

The most defining characteristic of an observant Jewish life is fidelity to the halacha, to Jewish law. The halacha is an all-encompassing system that governs a person's life from the moment they wake up in the morning until they go to sleep at night. There is little area in one's daily routine that is not nuanced by Jewish law. A person who maintains a life devoted to halacha is often asked about the perceived burden of doing so.1 How is it possible to live life encumbered by so many details … [Read more...]


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