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Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Rabbijn Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo (1946) werd geboren in Amsterdam en woont sinds 1977 in Israël. Als kind van een Portugees-Joodse vader en een niet-Joodse moeder heeft hij een lange weg afgelegd. Op zijn 16e is hij ‘uitgekomen’ (Joods geworden) bij Chacham Salomon Rodrigues Pereira. Jaren later haalde hij zijn rabbijnentitel aan de orthodoxe Gateshead Yeshiva. In Jeruzalem richtte hij de David Cardozo Academy op. Rabbijn Lopes Cardozo publiceert regelmatig en neemt daarbij geen blad voor de mond.

vrijdag 20 oktober 2017

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the father of psychoanalysis and a figure as eminent as Galileo or Einstein, devoted a great deal of attention to religion. Some of his works, such as Totem and Taboo (1913), The Future of an Illusion (1927) and Moses and Monotheism (1939), reveal his unusual interest in religion, specifically in the psychology behind religious belief.

Freud had nothing good to say about religion. He regarded religious beliefs as "…illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most insistent wishes of mankind." (1) Religion, he believed, was a mental defense against life’s hardships, against its threatening aspects, such as earthquakes, floods, storms, diseases and inevitable death, which “rise up against us, majestic, cruel and inexorable.” (2) Man looks for some kind of security into which he can escape from many of these threatening misfortunes. And if he cannot avoid them, he needs to at least feel that these disasters have an exalted purpose. This requires the existence of an ultimate father figure, an infinite being who can stop any disease or natural disaster, or has good reason for causing these calamities to take place.

This, claims Freud, is the reason why millions of people, including highly intelligent ones, believe in God. It is not because they have a high mental capacity to understand this world, but rather because of "the universal, obsessive neurosis of humanity," (3) which would be left behind if people would finally learn to face the world, relying no longer on illusions but upon scientifically authenticated knowledge.

In Totem and Taboo, Freud introduced his famous Oedipus complex. (4) Strangely enough, Freud uses this complex to explain the tremendous emotional intensity of religious life and the associated feelings of guilt and obligation to obey the dictates of the deity. He postulates a stage of human pre-history in which the family or tribe unit was the "primal horde", consisting of father, mother and offspring. The father, as head of the family or tribe, retained exclusive rights over all the females and drove away or even killed his sons who challenged his authority. The sons, seeing that they could never challenge their father's authority, decided to kill him and (being cannibals) eat him! This, states Freud, who saw the Oedipus complex as universal, is the primal crime of which guilt is born and which is responsible for so much tension within the human psyche.

This guilt ultimately developed into moral inhibitions and other phenomena now found in religion, since the sons, struck with remorse, could not succeed their father as head of the tribe.

For this reason the father figure – which later developed into the god idea – became so powerful in the human mind, and that is the reason why people are religious: because of a deep feeling of guilt and the need to rectify the killing or rejection of this god by way of total obedience.

Many scholars have discussed and criticized Freud's theory. Clearly, Freud was influenced by Charles Darwin and Robertson Smith, two dominating figures in the 19th century who initiated the "primal horde" theory. Modern anthropologists, such as H.L. Philip in his 1956 publication Freud and Religious Belief, have rejected this theory.

While Freud considered himself an atheist and seemed to have misunderstood most of religion, he was not entirely wrong when he proposed that many people are religious because they wish a God to exist to whom they can turn when in great need. Surprising, however, is his conclusion that because man wishes God to exist, one must conclude that His existence is a fantasy. This makes little sense. The fact that man wishes God to exist has no bearing at all on the question of whether He really exists or not. He may quite well exist, and man may simultaneously have a great need for His existence.

Nowhere did Freud offer any justification for his atheism, nor did he understand that he had in fact hit on one of the great foundations of Jewish thought.

Jewish tradition teaches that man was created in God’s image. Whatever this may mean, it definitely includes the fact that God created man in such a way that man, in desperate need to discover himself, would constantly search for Him. Freud, we believe, gave a most original interpretation of this fact. With his discovery of the father figure he may have uncovered the mechanism through which God created an idea of Himself as the ultimate Father in the human mind.

The utter dependence of a child on his loving parents may very well have been the way through which God built the foundation for man's capacity to believe and trust in Him. According to some rabbinic schools of thought, this was the very reason why God decided in favor of parenthood over other options such as creating human beings without the need for parents (the creation of Adam and Chava). Rabbinic tradition suggests that God first created the Torah as a primordial blueprint, after which He created the world accordingly. In that case, He may very well have created the need for man to see Him as the great Father Figure and consequently decided to create the need for parents (5).

Freud, then, may have been motivated, subconsciously and against his better instincts, by a deep Jewish need to explain the foundation of belief, and in this way he contributed substantially to the great tradition of Torah commentary.

Psychology generally gives us a totally different idea of what we thought we know best about ourselves. The Jew, Shlomo (Sigmund) Freud, proved this point by believing that his arguments opposed religious faith while in fact he was supporting it.

(1) Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion, trans. and ed. by James Strachey, (New York: Liveright Publishing Corp., and London: The Hogarth Press Ltd., 1961) p. 30.

(2) Ibid., p. 16.

(3) Ibid., p. 44.

(4) Oedipus is a prominent figure in Greek mythology who unknowingly killed his father and married his mother; the Oedipus complex of Freudian theory is the child's unconscious jealousy of his father and longing for his mother.

(5) See: John H. Hick, Philosophy of Religion, 3rd Edition (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1983) pp. 34-36.

Delen |

zondag 15 oktober 2017

Simchat Torah presents us with a rare paradox. On no other occasion do we celebrate our relationship with the Torah as we do on this day. We dance with it and sing love songs to it as if it were our beloved bride. Even after the holiday is over, huge festivities take place in Israel and the Diaspora when thousands of people turn to the streets carrying the Torah scrolls, while children holding lit torches accompany the festivities. Musicians leading huge parades turn it into a nearly mystical experience.

This, however, is most strange: The scrolls that we carry in our arms do not at all fit the times in which we live. They are completely outdated.

We live in a world of sophisticated technology. We walk on the moon, travel through space, communicate via satellite, and make use of the Internet – all without batting an eye. Physicians transplant people’s hearts, and replace or repair other parts of the human body with the greatest of ease. Any time now we will witness more scientific breakthroughs that will utterly surprise us, and before we know it, even more amazing inventions will usher us into a world we never dreamed was possible. Everything is moving and changing so rapidly that the term “speed” no longer has any relevance.

Yet here we are, dancing with a script that is totally oblivious to it all. The text in this archaic scroll has not changed since the day Moshe received it at Mount Sinai. Furthermore, according to tradition, even the manner in which the Torah scroll is written has not been altered. It is still the human hand that must write the text. No word processor can take over. The quill has not been replaced, and nothing dramatic has happened to the formula used to produce the special ink. The parchment, as well, is prepared in the very same way as it was in the days of the prophets. If someone looked at the scroll we carry in our hands, and didn’t know better, he would think we had discovered it in a cave where people thousands of years ago used to preserve their holy texts, such as the Dead Sea scrolls.

Jewish law always encourages integrating the latest scientific knowledge into our lives and has no problem with the newest developments in treating infertility, flying a spacecraft, and using technical devices to make it easier to observe Shabbat. Yet, when it comes to the writing of a Sefer Torah, no technological improvements are appreciated. They are basically rejected.*

Ours is a future-orientated religion. We are not afraid of the latest technologies because they allow us to fulfill, in ways unimagined by our forefathers, the divine mandate to cure diseases, create more pleasant ways to live our lives, and make the world a better place. All this is beautifully expressed by our Sages, who direct us to become partners with God in the work of creation. But the very text that demands this does not allow for any changes in its content and bars us from making use of the latest technological devices when it comes down to the physical preparation and writing of this same text!

What is the message conveyed by this paradox?

While living in a world that is constantly in a state of flux and where matters can change overnight, there must be a place of stability where we can take refuge. We need unshakeable foundations that won’t shift like quicksand. Without such footing we would be lost and dangerously overwhelmed by the very technology we have created. While we benefit from all these new inventions, we also pay a heavy price and become the victims of great confusion. Technology and science often create moral problems that overwhelm us. We then begin to wonder whether it would be better to reject our moral standards in order to accommodate all the new possibilities that have opened up. Though many of us know this will only lead to more problems, others are calling for such radical steps, thinking it will bring improvement.

We need certainty but can no longer find it. The situation has become so critical that we realize we have reached a place where our human identity is at stake, unlike our forefathers who had to deal primarily with problems related to ideology.

Looking at and taking notice of a Sefer Torah is therefore of great value. Here is an item that has not changed an iota. Its physical nature attests to its stability. It is the only thing in the world that would not give in to innovation. Its text informs us that while things indeed need to evolve and become more sophisticated, the basic moral positions in the Torah are not to be altered, and its physical representation as an “old-fashioned scroll” sends us that message. It does not want to accommodate everything, nor does it even want to accommodate itself. It is beyond time and space and hence disconnects itself from the so-called new developments that the passage of time always demands. It wants to remain itself, on its own terms, and therefore offers us a haven of stability and genuine identity in a stormy world. In that way, it reminds us of eternity, of another world in which enduring standards prevail and where there is tranquility, something we all long for.

A Sefer Torah teaches us that not everything old is necessarily old-fashioned. Making use of the word processor has in many ways led to depersonalization in our lives; running our world by remote control has not been good for our souls; and walking on the moon has not helped us to know our next-door neighbor any better. On the contrary, technological progress has robbed us of our own humanness.

It is therefore most meaningful that one item has maintained its constancy. It carries a text that has had greater influence in the world than any other we know of. It has changed the universe as nothing else has; it encourages man to move, to discover and to develop. But it is written on parchment, by the hand of man, holding a quill, as if to say: Be yourself. Don’t get run over by the need for progress.

* Although there are some slight changes in the way we produce all these components today, sometimes making things a little easier, basically the formula remains the same. In Ohr Yitzchak, the collection of responsa by Rabbi Yitzchak Abadi of Jerusalem, on Yoreh De’ah, siman 54, the author suggests ways in which a Sefer Torah can be written without the scribe actually writing the letters, making use of the latest technology. This suggestion has not been accepted by the vast majority of halachic authorities. I would indeed add that it is not in the spirit of Judaism, nor is it what a Sefer Torah should stand for, ideologically. This matter goes to the very root of the difficult question as to what extent ideology can play a role in halachic issues – a long and difficult topic beyond the scope of this essay.

Delen |

zondag 8 oktober 2017

Traveling through a desert is journeying through a lonely place, completely forsaken. There is neither food nor water, nor any other form of sustaining substance. There is only the unbearable sun and its heat. There is no grass, and there are no trees. The only signs of life are deadly snakes and scorpions. In a desert, death stares you in the face. It is a dangerous and outrageous place.

But a desert is also a magnificent locale, filled with grandeur and full of life. It is an area where many things can happen that are impossible in any other location.

First and foremost, it is a place of authenticity; and therefore a place of miracles.

Because the desert is an area of devastating silence, there is no distraction and no competition.

It is the desert's thundering silence that allows a "still voice" within us to speak, and that cannot bear mediocrity. Instead, a desert seeks singular excellence, even when most men cannot recognize it as such. It protests against those who are appeased when they find something old in the new, even though it is clear that this old could not have given birth to this new.

The Egyptian French poet Edmond Jabès noted the connection between the Hebrew words "dabar" (word) and "midbar" (desert). This, he claims, goes to the core of what it means to be a Jew:
"With exemplary regularity the Jew chooses to set out for the desert, to go toward a renewed word that has become his origin… A wandering word is the word of God. It has for its echo the word of a wandering people. No oasis for it, no shadow, no peace. Only the immense, thirsty desert, only the book of this thirst…" (From the Book to the Book: An Edmond Jabès Reader [Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1991] pp. 166-7)

In the emptiness and silence of the desert, an authentic inner voice can be heard while sitting in the sukkah, a hut that existentially gives protection but in no way physically shields. Its roof leaks and its walls fall apart the moment a wind blows. It is a place with no excuses. But it can only be experienced by a people of the wilderness; a people who are not rooted in a substance of physical limitations and borders; a people who are not entirely fixed by an earthly point, even while living in a homeland. Their spirit reaches far beyond restrictive borders. They are particularistic so as to be universalistic. They are never satisfied with their spiritual condition and are therefore always on the road, looking for more, even when they live in their homeland, which is nothing more than a feeble sukkah.

They are a wandering people that can never permanently land because the runway is too narrow and they cannot fit into any final destination. They are a people who always experience unrest because they carry a spiritual secret that doesn't fit anywhere and wanders in the existential state of an unlimited desert. An existential experience that unnerves because it's rooted in the desert where it becomes deadly, if not properly handled.

But a desert is even more. It is an area where nothing can be tangibly achieved. In a desert, people cannot prove themselves, at least not in the conventional sense. It doesn't offer jobs that people can fight over and compete for. It has no factories, offices, or department stores. There are no bosses to order people around, and no fellow workers with whom to compete. It is 'prestige deprived'. In a desert, there is no kavod (honor) to be received. It doesn't have cities, homes, or fences. If it had these, it would no longer be a desert. Human achievements would end its desert status and would undermine and destroy the grandeur of its might and beauty.

It has only a sukkah, a place that lacks all physical security. People can only "be", but never "have" anything, in a desert. There is no food to be eaten but the manna, the soul food, and one can easily walk in the same shoes for 40 years, because authenticity does not wear out. People's garments grow with them and don't need changing or cleaning, because they are as pure as can be (See Rashi's commentary on Devarim 8:4). And that which is pure continues to grow and stays clean.

The desert is therefore a state of mind. It removes the walls in our subconscious, and even in our conscious way of thinking. It is an out-of-the-box realm. In a desert one can think unlimitedly. As such, one is open to the impossible and hears murmurs from another world, which can never be heard in the city or on a job. The desert allows for authentic thinking, without obstacles, and therefore is able to break through and remove from us any artificial thoughts that don't identify with our deeper souls. Nothing spiritual gets lost, because the fences around our thoughts become neutralized and no longer bar the way to our inner lives. The desert is the ultimate liberty. It teaches us that openness doesn't mean surrender to what is most "in" or powerful. The desert doesn't consist of vulgar successes that have been made into major accomplishments.

And therefore it is a place of miracles.

The Sages say: "Anyone who does not make himself open to all ("hefker", ownerless), like a wilderness, cannot gain wisdom and Torah" (Bamidbar Rabbah 1:7).

With this statement, the Sages introduce a most important insight concerning ourselves. We cannot bear artificial, unauthentic ideas that are sold in this world of superficiality.

And therefore we sit in a sukkah, a place that has nothing to show for itself; only powerful simplicity. It is frail and unaccomplished, because it serves as a road sign for our lives and for what is really important: authenticity in all its nakedness.

Moadim l'simcha.

Delen |

zondag 1 oktober 2017

As we have just experienced Yom Kippur and asked ourselves what we should do to become better Jews – not just as individuals but also as a community – we must realize that we need to change our attitudes and not just our deeds. This demands nothing less than ideological redirection.

In a pointed inquiry, the Talmud (Nedarim 81a) struggles with a remarkable phenomenon that has far reaching consequences for our own generation. Why is it, asks the Talmud, that children of the sages rarely became talmudic scholars and pious Jews? Should it not be they, more than anyone, who walk in the footsteps of their parents, reach even greater heights in learning and genuine observance? How could it be that the parent-sages did not provide them with the tools to do so?

After suggesting several possible reasons, the Talmud proposes: “It is because they (the sages) did not make a blessing over the Torah first.” This statement begs clarification. It is inconceivable to believe that the sages neglected to recite the appropriate blessing over the Torah, which each Jew is obligated to say at the start of the morning prayers. The Talmud consequently concludes that this statement must have come from God Himself as only He could know its deeper meaning.

While the commentators continue to wrestle with the interpretation, it is Rabbi Nissim Gerondi, (14th century Talmudist), better known as the Ran, who renders its full meaning:
“The truth is that the people (sages) actually kept the Torah and never forsook the task of studying it. Therefore the prophets and the sages were perplexed until God Himself came to explain it. He, who knows the depths of the human heart, could see that, though they studied Torah, they did not bless it. They did not consider it to be an supreme blessing.”

These are profound and powerful words. The statement, “they did not make a blessing over the Torah first,” means, says Rabbi Nissim Gerondi, that as much as they were devoted to Torah practice and learning, it was not the ultimate love of their lives. It may have been their top priority, the all-encompassing drive behind everything they did, spoke, felt and thought. But what was missing was the power of radical religious passion.

It was for this reason that their children did not follow in their footsteps. As they observed their parents they realized, perhaps only subconsciously, that a major ingredient was missing. Passion. As a result, they were uninspired by their parents’ life style, notwithstanding their commitment to halacha.

Still, one needs to fully understand this statement. What, after all, is a blessing and what is it that provides us with religious passion? It is the awareness that something cannot become exhausted. To appreciate Judaism and see it as a blessing is to understand that just as the ocean is unfathomable, so Judaism transcends all interpretations. It is not simply a chapter in the history of religion; nor can it be fully comprehended by the sages of Israel or anyone else. Understanding Judaism cannot be attained in the comfort of observing its laws or studying its texts. It occupies infinite space, beyond the limitations of the human mind and heart.

It can therefore only be appreciated in the light of higher level of repentance, of returning to it again and again, discovering its many dimensions unexplored during the previous year.

We did not invent Judaism; we received it. We may accept it or reject it, but we may not distort it. And distortion is what results from our belief that we have grasped it and that we live a full Jewish life through “observance”. While in the past we encountered apostasy, today it is mindlessness that has become the great challenge. Our failure is our inability to be disturbed, upset, and even hurt by the decline of authenticity. It is the possibility that we have become casualties of complacency while living a Jewish life. Once we “observe” Judaism, at the expense of celebrating it, we fail to be a source of inspiration to our children.

Repentance must be a decision made from a place of truthfulness and deep remorse. It must be a return to God, not a retreat or a phase in our lives. It should not be a coerced change, but a move of integrity.

Repentance is, by far, the greatest miracle. In the dimension of time there is no such thing as going back. But in the world of repentance time is created backward. It allows the re-creation of the past. To make the past better than it used to be. As such, it is a divine gift that alludes to a dimension of Judaism that surpasses man.

What is at stake today is not just the fate of our generation. We are the link in a chain between Avraham and the Mashiach. We are the only channel of Jewish tradition and we must ensure, not only saving Judaism from oblivion, but also guaranteeing that it be the great love of all future generations. We can be either the last Jews or the new givers of Judaism. Rarely in our history has one generation been so essential to the survival of Judaism. We will either enrich the Jewish religious legacy, or forfeit it.

This awareness demands a new attitude, an ideological repentance. We must never view Judaism as an arrival; rather, it is a continuum. Turning the past into the present to become the future. Once we realize this, Judaism will invoke a blessing for ourselves and our children. And that will be the “first” in our lives.

Tizku Le-Shanim Raboth and Chag Sameach.

*Inspired by Avraham Joshua Heschel z.l.

Delen |

zondag 24 september 2017

Dear Friends,

Shalom u-vracha.

At the age of 71, I can attest to having prayed in many synagogues, in Israel and around the world – Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Chasidic, Ultra-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox.

But the synagogue I love above all others and in which I feel most at home is ours. It is attended by the finest and most sympathetic people I have ever met. We have Ultra-Orthodox Jews, Modern Orthodox Jews, Ashkenazim, Sephardim, professors, rabbis, soldiers, and handymen.

It is a welcoming place for all children, including those who are disabled or come from difficult backgrounds. We are also a home for those who are not affiliated but want to be connected. Everyone is treated equally, and everyone receives a big smile from our gabbaim, who do a remarkable job and ensure that each person feels more than welcome and has a place in our synagogue. This is quite an achievement, which few synagogues have on their list of accomplishments.

We are also blessed with a remarkable rabbi, who is not only an impressive talmid chacham but also a man of great integrity, with a huge heart, who is an example to all of us. I consider him a personal friend and teacher.

We could not have been more blessed.

It is for this reason that I appeal to all of you to add one more zechut (merit) to our synagogue: I request this particularly on Erev Rosh HaShana when, according to our tradition, not only we Jews, but all of humankind are judged by HaKadosh Baruch Hu. As the Mishna states, "On Rosh HaShana all human beings pass before Him, as sheep before a shepherd [one by one]" (Rosh HaShana 1:2).

We live in a world of incredible turmoil, where tens if not hundreds of thousands, including many young children, are murdered, mutilated, or terribly ill due to lack of proper medical care. Women, men, and children are dying of hunger. Others are beheaded and tortured.

Wherever we look, whether in Syria or lately in Burma and Afghanistan, we see such enormous pain, suffering and death. In the last few days we have seen how millions of people had to be evacuated from Florida due to Hurricane Irma, deemed America's worst hurricane ever. The loss of life and financial damage is devastating.

For us Jews, this is especially alarming. For thousands of years we have been victims of the cruelest atrocities. In the Holocaust we lost 6 million of our sisters and brothers, including more than 1 million children, in the gas chambers or thrown alive into the ovens.

To this day, we Jews are justifiably outraged beyond description by how the world was indifferent to our fate. The screams of millions of victims from the crematoria were, with few exceptions, ignored. We feel intense animosity toward Pius XII, 'Hitler’s pope', for failing to call on millions of his Catholic followers to protect the Jews and stand up against the ferocious murderer. May his memory be obliterated.

After the Holocaust, during which our people narrowly escaped total extinction, the most remarkable thing in all of history happened. As in a dream, we were privileged to return to our ancient homeland after nearly 2,000 years of exile. We now have our own army to defend us, and many of us live in great comfort and joy, with opportunities that we, as Jews, could never have envisioned. This is nothing less than an astounding blessing that God has granted us; an open miracle. And we wonder why our generation has been so privileged when our ancestors, who were much more pious than we are or ever will be, ended up in the gas chambers.

But here too lies our greatest nisayon (trial and challenge). Living under these miraculous conditions (which we really do not merit), we are in great danger of falling prey to the curse of indifference; indifference to the miserable and impossible situation of our fellow humans who are threatened by suffering and death.

The fact that many of them live clear across the world makes this challenge even more acute. "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference", said Elie Wiesel (US News & World Report, October 27, 1986).

People are unaware of their own insensitivity. And therefore it is extremely dangerous. This is even truer for us Jews who know what apathy can lead to.

Since we are by far the most extraordinary nation on the globe, consisting of less than one percent of the world population, and, in Mark Twain's words, nothing more than "a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way" ("Concerning the Jews," Harper's Magazine, September 1899), and having outlived all our enemies for thousands of years, we carry an enormous responsibility to be highly sensitive to the suffering of our fellow humans. Not for nothing are we the Chosen People. Because we have experienced, as no other nation has, what indifference can lead to, it is our duty, more than anybody else, to care about our fellow human beings and be an example for the rest of the world.

In the preface to Sefer Bereshit of his magnum opus, Ha’amek Davar on the Torah, the Netziv, Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Berlin (1817-1893), the last Rosh HaYeshiva of the famous Volozhin Yeshiva, makes the powerful point that the greatness of our patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, and no doubt our matriarchs, was the fact that they cared about the well-being of the gentiles in their day, even if they were idolaters. One example is the famous story of Avraham arguing with God to save the people of Sedom, who had fallen to the lowest possible level of moral behavior. Nothing stopped Avraham from trying to save these people, even if it meant having a real argument with God Himself (Bereshit 18: 20-33). The Netziv adds that this is why Avraham is called the “father of a multitude of nations” (Bereshit 17:4).

But this is not merely a compliment; it is a deeply religious mission for all the People of Israel. To be an example to the world, and to stand up for all those innocents who have fallen victim to the unspeakable evil of others.

It is for this reason that Rabbi Yosef Karo, in his monumental codex, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 576:1), legislated the law that in times of catastrophe, one should fast and lessen one’s pleasures, based on the talmudic statement: “When the community is in trouble, a person should not say: I will go to my house, I will eat and drink and all will be well with me” (Taanit 11a).

This is not Reform or Conservative; it is Orthodox law to which all of us have declared our allegiance.

The State of Israel has gone out of its way to help victims of war wherever they take place. It has sent soldiers and medical staff to every corner of the world, to save and treat people trapped in earthquakes and hurricanes. For a small country like ours, it is unprecedented. But this is exactly why we Jews are on earth: to care, to fight complacency, and to break free of self-satisfaction.

I therefore call upon you, my fellow worshippers, our dear rabbi, and our gabbaim, to take the initiative to introduce a short prayer on Shabbat in which we express our deep concern, pity, and pain for what is happening to millions of people, including innocent women and children, and ask the Ribono shel Olam to have mercy on them.

This is far from enough; just a drop in the ocean. But it's an important drop. It's an expression of anxiety – something to wake ourselves up and ensure that we don't become indifferent.

As religious Jews, we believe in the power of prayer. Moshe Rabenu uttered only one sentence to heal his sister Miriam, but in Heaven it was received as an ongoing prayer and was ultimately successful (Bamidbar 12: 10-15).

While practical actions must be taken to help these victims, by ending the bloodshed and torture, and by giving them medical and financial support, we all know that this may not always work. Ultimately, some matters remain in God's hands. And that is why we pray, with the hope that He will bring an end to these horrors.

To speak about God and to God while remaining silent about what happens to millions of victims around the world is blasphemous.

We cannot stay silent if we hold the world responsible for its silence while we were slaughtered throughout history, and specifically during the Holocaust.

Let us pray for others, lest the Ribono shel Olam will be indifferent, God forbid, to our prayers for this coming year.

At the beginning of this new year, we can prove once more how great and truthful our Bet Knesset is and how it can again be an example to other Batei Knesset, to our fellow Jews, and above all to our children.

With love and respect,

Shana tova, and tizku leshanim rabot.

For a possible prayer version, click here.

Delen |
okt 2017Freud’s Subconscious Discovery of God
okt 2017Afterthoughts on Simchat Torah: The Unbending Sefer Torah
okt 2017Sukkot Is a State of Mind Nakedness and a Desert Full of Snakes
okt 2017Afterthoughts on Yom Kippur Ultimate Love and the Danger of Religious Exhaustion*
sep 2017An Open Letter to My Synagogue The Curse of Indifference
sep 2017Embryonic Judaism The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu
sep 2017The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu Tentative Thoughts Toward a Jewish Religious Renaissance
aug 2017The Turmoil in the USA
aug 2017Jewish Law (Halacha) as Rebellion (2)
aug 2017Jewish Law (Halacha) as Rebellion
jul 2017In Defense of Rabbi Dweck and Orthodox Judaism An Open Letter to Rabbi S. F. Zimmerman, Rav of Gateshead, ...
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jun 2017A Modern Day Inquisition Rabbi Joseph Dweck The Tragic Story of Rabbinical Small-mindedness
jun 2017Speaking Lashon Hara about the World
jun 2017The Holocaust: Divine Retribution?
mei 2017The Desert and the Wandering Divine Word
mei 2017The Ban on Circumcision Blatant Anti-Semitism and Ignorance
mei 2017Kohanim: The Challenge of Educational Dissent
mei 2017Are We Really Living at the Dawn of the Redemption? Afterthoughts on Yom Ha’atzmaut
apr 2017Boredom and the Immature Elderly
apr 2017Pesach: God’s Sporadic Presence and Overwhelming Absence in Human History
mrt 2017Parshat Vayikra The Trouble with Sacrifices Why Spinoza’s Ethics Were Not Given at Sinai
mrt 2017Johann Sebastian Bach and the Tent of Meeting
mrt 2017An open letter to Rabbi Cardozo in response to his article on Rav Soloveitchik Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik ...
mrt 2017Purim and the Challenge of the Holocaust
mrt 2017Thoughts to reject For the Early Connoisseur Purim
feb 2017Sinai Now!
feb 2017Parashat Yitro Racism and the Wisdom of a Gentile
feb 2017The Genius and Limitations of Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik z”l
feb 2017The Chief Rabbinate and Its Disgrace Who Is an Exceptionally Great Sage?
jan 2017The Unknowable, Loving and Aggravating God “I am as I shall be” (*Shemot* 3:14)
jan 2017Rabbinical Tyranny and Freedom of Thought
jan 2017Calling for Religious Unity Only Leads to Division The Need for Personal Conscience
jan 2017Syria and the Scandal of our (Orthodox) Synagogues
dec 2016Divine Emanations, Cause and Effect, and Chanukah
dec 2016God is not a “what,” nor a “when”, and not even a “who” God and the Fires
dec 2016God and The Fires “Because of Our Sins, This Has Befallen Us?”
dec 2016The Purpose of Sefer Bereishit The Abuse of Halacha: Keeping Halacha under Control Part 2
nov 2016The Abuse of Halacha: Keeping Halacha Under Control Part 1
nov 2016Walking Mountains, Shabbat and the Buddha
nov 2016The Curse of Religious Boredom
nov 2016Torah: The Unavoidable and Disturbing Text
okt 2016Torah from Heaven The Deliberately Flawed Divine Torah The Theology of the Halachic Loophole
okt 2016Approaching Tragedy with Joy
okt 2016Yom Kippur: Who is Able to Eat?
sep 2016Do We Dare to Blow the Shofar?
sep 2016Against Indifference Prayer for the World
sep 2016God Does Not Exist So Let Us Serve Him! For Poets, Musicians, Artists and Deep Souls
sep 2016For Poets, Musicians, Artists and Deep Souls The Hopelessness of Dogma and the Beauty of faith
sep 2016Let Us Violate Shabbat So As To Sanctify It The Holy Day and the Tel Aviv Railway
aug 2016Wanted: Rabbis with Knives between Their Teeth The Need for a Genuine Upheaval
aug 2016A Slap in the Face to the Holy One Blessed Be He?
aug 2016Rabbinic Despair and Simple Courage
aug 2016The Chaos Theory of Halacha
jul 2016How the Mighty Have Fallen On Joy and Jealousy
jul 2016Faith is the Joy of Religious Doubt and Uncertainty
jun 2016The Kotel Have We Gone Mad? A Call to All Denominations and Other “Holy” Warriors
jun 2016Israel, the American Elections and the Turmoil in Our World A Parable
jun 2016Shavuot Would You Convert? Like Yitro?
jun 2016Orthodox Rabbi Teaching Halakha Beyond the Shulkhan Arukh, Judaism Beyond the Commandments
mei 2016Parshat Bechukotai The Miracle of Satisfaction
mei 2016Sefirat HaOmer: What Really Counts
mei 2016An Unyielding Marriage of 3500+ Years Yom Ha’atzmauth
mei 2016Yom Hashoa The Quest for Authenticity Rembrandt and the Holocaust
apr 2016Blessed Are Those Who Eat Chametz!
apr 2016Plato’s Advice: Do Not Read The Haggada!
apr 2016The True Art of Sport: Game or Torture?
apr 2016Are You Really Eating Kosher? On Camouflage, Hypocrisy and Hiding behind the Kashrut Laws
mrt 2016The Making of an Enemy The Birth of Amalek
mrt 2016Purim, God’s Hidden Face, and the Advantage of a Permanent Job
mrt 2016The Hazard of Fluency
mrt 2016Rabbinical Courage and the Frozen Text
feb 2016Have Some Pity on the Anti-Semite!
feb 2016Shut Down the Kotel!
feb 2016A Remorseless Judaism
feb 2016Milk and Meat: The Dangerous Mixture
jan 2016Halacha as the Art of Playing Chess Divine Insanity
jan 2016Am I Still Orthodox? Answer to a Jerusalem Rabbi
jan 2016The Desecration of Halacha
jan 2016The Threat of Freedom
dec 2015Amsterdam Spinoza Symposium It Is Time to Lift the Ban
dec 2015Arguing Against Oneself: Joseph’s Self-Revenge
dec 2015Needed: Redemptive Halakha How Halakha Must Transcend Itself
dec 2015Chanukah: Hypocrisy or Authenticity
nov 2015A Prophetic View: The Gentile Aliyah Epidemic
nov 2015Oh, that I Could Take Off My Kippah!
nov 2015Admitting A Mistake: Even God Does
nov 2015 How Old Would You Be If You Did Not Know How Old You Are?
okt 2015The Religious Scandal of Akeidat Yitzchak and the Tragic God
okt 2015Israel: The Blessing of Insecurity
okt 2015God, Where are You? An open letter
okt 2015Simchat Torah: Rush or Stagnation
sep 2015The Trouble with Kal Nidrei We Are All Marranos
sep 2015Rosh Hashana Is Judaism Your Supreme Passion? (1)
sep 2015Courage, Rabbis, Courage! The Need For Mass Conversion
aug 2015Conversion and Annie Fischer’s Interpretation of Schumann’s Klavierkonzert in A Minor
aug 2015Conversion Is Not About Halacha
aug 2015The Immortal Highway
aug 2015Marriage: The Courage to Say ‘Li’
jul 2015Torah: Hearing the Divine Voice at Sinai Now
jul 2015The Temple Is of Little Importance, It Is the Eye of the Needle That Counts
jul 2015The Supreme Court of the United States, Same-Sex Marriage and Other Prohibitions
jul 2015Faith Means Joyful Uncertainty
jun 2015Religion is Dangerous; Plato, Halacha and Dreams
jun 2015The Dangling Bridges of Halacha Making rules where rules should not exist
jun 2015Bold Ideas: Take the Bike or Tram, Get a Free Coffee, and Observe Shabbat! (1)
jun 2015Halacha: The Disturbing Search for God
mei 2015Make Anti-Semitism a Source of Jewish Pride
mei 2015Shavuot, The Wonder and Glow of God’s Word
jul 2014De paradox van ‘Wie is een Jood’
mei 2014Joden, Sisyphus en Sport – (Met enige ironie!)
mei 2014God is aan het verhuizen
apr 2014Seideravond: karpas en de veelkleurige mantel
feb 2014Groots denken omtrent het jodendom
dec 2013The Abuse of Halacha
nov 2013Limmoed en het orthodoxe fiasco