Prayer, Good Deeds and Sacrifices? Explaining The Role of Sacrifices in Judaism

cow

The most read book in human history, the Bible, spends much of its time concerned with the construction of a special sanctuary, a Tabernacle, in which animal (and grain) sacrifices were performed regularly. We may have grown up on the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and the Great Deluge, the Twelve Tribes and the Exodus from Egypt but the majority of the text of the Five Books is dedicated to a set of rituals that have not been performed in the last two thousand years.How do we explain the … [Read more...]

One Lesson From The Voyeur Rabbi Scandal: Women Must Be Part of Every Board Room

Rabbis Arguing

It has now been more than a week since the revelations occurred in the media of the alleged voyeuristic spying committed by one of the most influential and powerful Modern Orthodox rabbis in America, Rabbi Barry Freundel. If it was not horrible enough that women, most of them in the process of converting to Judaism, were violated in one of the most special and intimate ritual places in Judaism, it is now clear that the problems go back for years. Abuses of a sexual nature are often more about … [Read more...]

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...]

The Righteous Mind

The Righteous Mind

I recently finished reading Professor Jonathan Haidt's new book The Righteous Mind and found it to be utterly fascinating. The objective of the book is to present readers with a nuanced psychologically based reason for why people of good will and character differ so sharply and so strongly on critical issues. He specifically draws our attention to the subjects of religion and politics but his theory could be applied to any subject on which people passionately and vigorously disagree.This is … [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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