inloggen
×

Mijn Crescas

Inloggen met gebruikersnaam & wachtwoord






Zonder wachtwoord snel inloggen?

Columns

Weblogs disclaimer

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 9 september 2016

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself,
I am large, I contain multitudes.
- Walt Whitman (1)

Faith can only be found in the light of one’s soul, never in dogma. Dogmas reach only the mind but not the human heart. Trying to translate faith into dogma is a misguided technical skill that leaves the human heart empty of that which is crucial to a religious experience. Faith is the art of living with a question and recognizing the spiritual power of the query, which only dies when it is answered. Faith is the refutation of an attempt to reconcile theological declarations; instead, it holds them, suspended, and through the tension between them it creates vitality. Dogmas are essentially descriptive and normative. They can’t penetrate the mystery that hovers over all questions and answers. They are unable to formulate the relevance of that which surpasses final beliefs. Faith thrusts the religious man into a place of reality that the mind cannot grasp and words do not reach. It is a moment when all definitions come to an end and any attempt to come to conclusive principles can only yield trivialities that become suspended in the heart of the man of real faith. Genuine Judaism can only be understood in its natural habitat of deep faith and piety in which the divine reaches all thoughts. In faith, a man must enter the world with all that he is and has. One does not sacrifice one’s life for dogma, only for deep religious faith.

The difference between dogma and faith is like the difference between a word spoken and a word set to music. Faith is the refutation of human finality. It transforms dogma into something untouchable and gives man entry into the imponderable. It is resurrecting old words and infusing them with eternity.

Since the secular world is often unable to experience inner silence and space, religious philosophers, out of mere spiritual poverty, invented dogma so as to respond to this emptiness by imitating the language of the peripheral to describe the ineffable. Dogma transforms religiosity into a showcase, and the result is indifference to the sacred. Dogma is a dead thought, while faith is a living experience. Dogma is an attempt to believe; faith is the will to wonder. Dogma is built from conventional notions and mental clichés. Faith is marveling at the incomprehensible and experiencing the world more as a question than an answer. Living by dogma is like demonstrating the beauty of classical music by showing somebody Mozart’s musical score and informing him that he no longer needs to hear the music.

In one of Plato’s earliest dialogues, Charmides, the philosopher discusses the question: What is temperance? After offering several definitions, all of which prove inadequate, he has Socrates exclaim: “I have been utterly defeated, and have failed to discover what that is to which the imposer of names gave this name of temperance…. the impossibility of a man knowing in a sort of way that which he does not know at all” (3). Plato’s own words are: “It [philosophy] does not at all admit of verbal expression like other studies, but, as a result of continued application to the subject itself and communion therewith, it is brought to birth in the soul on a sudden, as light that is kindled by a leaping spark, and thereafter it nourishes itself” (4). Indeed, to define words such as “good”, “love” and “holy” is impossible. And so it is with religious beliefs. Any attempt to do so not only limits them but actually renders them meaningless, since their most essential component is removed. The best part of beauty is that which a picture cannot express.

As in other religions, teachers of Judaism have often attempted to raise its foundations to the level of clear utterances, dogmas and creeds. Yet, such endeavors cannot be more than indications, an attempt to convey what cannot be adequately expressed.

Judaism is in perpetual danger of prioritizing concepts and dogmas while forfeiting the primacy of the inexpressible dimensions of religious insights. Doctrines and creeds should never become screens; they can only function as windows into a world that is beyond definition. Dogma in the hands of man often turns into expressions of clerical authority, laying down a fixed set of principles without allowing an existential search for genuine faith.

Despite the fact that such an approach has been tried by some of the greatest Jewish thinkers, it has never succeeded, because Judaism is not the outcome of a doctrine but rather of concrete events, actions and insights of a people who experienced an encounter with God, which cannot be transmitted by absolute verbal expression. Judaism refused to accept dogma as sacrosanct and did not allow such attempts to come between itself and the inexhaustibility of its teachings. One cursory glance into the Talmud proves this point beyond doubt. The flow of thoughts and opposing ideas, as well as the suggestion and rejection of opinions and insights are abundant. The interaction between legality, prose, narrative, illusion and stark reality is astonishing. It is what distinguishes Judaism as the richest of all teachings. Not even Greek philosophy was able to produce such a symphony of ideas in which the waves of human intellect and divinity roll forward and backward. There is an absolute lack of systematization, and it is clear that any such attempt was nipped in the bud. The most persistent intellectual energy and analytic efforts were devoted to the continual contrivance of beautiful and profound interpretation in order to discover and reveal the totality of life.

It is detrimental to Jewish tradition to transform words into fixed clusters of thought and to store up entire consistent theories. The idea is not to hoard masses of information, secure them in one’s memory and then carefully convert them into notes. Once that happens, one becomes scared and disturbed by new ideas, since the new puts into question the fixed sum of information that has been stored in one’s mind. Ideas that cannot easily be pinned down are frightening.

Instead of being passive receptacles of words and ideas, the ideal is to hear and, most important, to receive and respond in an active and productive way. Judaism needs to stimulate a thinking process, which ultimately leads to transformation. Not only should uniformity of opinion not be sought, but it is to be avoided. Diversity of opinion is essential to discovering truth, which is presented to us in many contrasting colors, and no force in the world can put a great thought to death.

Even if dogma has a purpose, it can never function as a substitute for faith, but only as a minor aspect of it, just as music is much more than what a musical note can ever convey.

Judaism offers something that Christianity does not: a religion without a theology (5).


(1) “Song of Myself,” Part 51, in Leaves of Grass (Oxford University Press, USA, 2005).

(2) In the coming year I will, sporadically and as time permits, make a first attempt to suggest new principles of faith, which I believe are more true to Judaism for today’s spiritual climate. My main suggestion, stated by others as well, is that it is impossible to break Judaism down into absolute, well-worked-out theological principles. As such, the title of these essays is a contradiction in terms. I am fully aware that I step on holy and dangerous ground, and only men much greater than I have dared to enter this arena. Still, no theory is good unless one can use it to move beyond. The great Maimonides made a major attempt to give Judaism a solid theology. However, it backfired and was fought by many rabbinical authorities and thinkers. It is very telling that when Maimonides’ opponents gained ground, they effaced his honorific appellations from his tombstone, substituting them with the rude inscription: Here lies Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, banned and a heretic. Later, these words were removed, because opponents recanted their opposition. Today’s inscription reads: From Moshe to Moshe there was none like Moshe. We must remember, however that it is unclear why Maimonides insisted that there are conventional dogmas on which Judaism is founded. It may be that he wanted to offer the Jews of his day a Jewish theology as an anchor to hold them steady when confronting Christian and Islamic attacks on Judaism. “He postulated the principles for the masses … but not for those individuals who plumbed the knowledge of truth, for whom he wrote the Guide” (Rabbi Yitzchak Abarbanel (1437-1508), Rosh Amanah [Principles of Faith] Ch. 23). Still, as Professor Leon Roth stated, “This Hebrew of Hebrews had in many respects a Greek mind, and through his sense of logic and his passion for precision he brought Judaism into a doctrinal crisis the echoes of which are with us yet” (Judaism: A Portrait, 1960, p. 122). I know that professional philosophers will strongly object to my attempt at deconstructing the principles of faith and replacing them with a different approach. They will show inconsistencies and paradoxes. Yet, I believe that philosophy is more about the formulation of problems than about their solution. Paradoxes expose reality. “Ultimately, philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains” (Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought, 1938). In elucidating my thoughts on these principles of faith, I was guided by the fact that it is the often ineffable relationship between ideas that gives them meaning. A collaboration of thoughts produces new insights. An idea functions only as a fragment in the formulation of a vision. The best part remains unspoken.

For outstanding studies on the Thirteen Principles of Maimonides, see: Louis Jacobs, Principles of the Jewish Faith: An Analytical Study (London: Vallentine-Mitchell, 1964); Marc B. Shapiro, The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles Reappraised (Oxford and Portland, Oregon: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2004); Menachem Kellner: Must a Jew Believe Anything? Second edition (Oxford and Portland, Oregon: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2006). See also: Michael Wyschogrod, The Body of Faith: God in the People Israel (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1996).

(3) Plato, Charmides, or Temperance, tr. by Benjamin Jowett (Forgotten Books, 2008) p. 41.

(4) Plato, Letters, Letter 7, Section 341C.

(5) Walter A. Kaufmann, Critique of Religion and Philosophy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1958) p. 276.

Delen |

Uw reactie:

vul de beveiligings-code in
aug 2019The Sweetening of the Divine Word
aug 2019A Command to Cancel the Commandments Tolerating Heresy
jul 2019Life: The Courage to Say 'Li'
jul 2019The Divine Insanity of Halachic Chess
jul 2019Limmud
jun 2019The Embarrassment and Honor of Being Called a Rabbi, and Third-Epoch Halacha
jun 2019The High Priest, the Pope and I
jun 2019My Struggle with Persuasion and the Truth Concerning other Religions
jun 2019Is the Torah Divine? Thoughts for Shavuot on Combustibility
mei 2019A Vote of Confidence
mei 2019To Madonna
mei 2019On Music Baths And Art As Religious Protest
mei 2019Yom Ha’atzmauth The Eternal Marriage
mei 2019My Chareidi and Modern Orthodox Struggles Question 9, Part Two
apr 2019Bread is an Arrogant Matza
apr 2019Question 9 My Chareidi and Modern Orthodox Struggles Part One
apr 2019The Israeli Elections Radical Otherness
mrt 2019Faith and Freedom The Passover Haggadah of Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits
mrt 2019Thoughts to Reject Purim
mrt 2019My Hardship with Honest Teaching And Its Privilege
mrt 2019My Controversy with the Mainstream Orthodox Community – Part 2
mrt 2019My Controversy with the Mainstream Orthodox Community – Part 1
feb 2019My Fascination with the Chaotic World of the Talmud Ten Questions for Rabbi Lopes Cardozo
feb 2019The Kotzker, Spinoza and I Ten Questions for Rabbi Cardozo
feb 2019The Sanctity of Shabbat Yes to the Ayalon Bridge, No to the Eurovision Song Contest
feb 2019My Search for and Momentary Loss of God
jan 2019Why I (Refuse to) Pray Ten Questions for Rabbi Cardozo
jan 2019Torah Reaches Beyond the Boundaries of Strict Halacha
dec 2018An interview with Rabbi Cardozo: Taking issue
dec 2018Parashat Miketz The Pain of Being a Tzaddik
nov 2018Parashat Vayeshev Divine Emanations, Chanuka and the Future of the State of Israel
nov 2018Parashat Vayishlach Amalek, Jewish Injustice, Converts and a Warning to the Chief Rabbinate
nov 2018Parashat Vayetze Be Fearful of Religion (1)
nov 2018Parashat Toldot Admitting A Mistake: Even God Does
nov 2018Pittsburgh - In Memory of Its Victims Faith, Death and Frontal Encounter (A Short Insight while on the ...
okt 2018The Curse of Religious Boredom
okt 2018Parashat Noach
okt 2018Introduction to Torah Torah: The Unavoidable and Disturbing Text
sep 2018Simchat Torah: The Unapproachable Text
sep 2018Simchat Torah Technology and the Outdated Torah Scroll
sep 2018Rosh HaShana: Fairy Tales and Humor
aug 2018Rosh HaShanah: What Really Counts
aug 2018The Joy of Saying: I am Sorry The Portuguese Spanish Selichot
aug 2018Parashat Shoftim Surround Yourself with Cleanliness
aug 2018Achieving Unity While Remaining Divided
jul 2018Tish'a B'Av – The Ninth of Av Who Needs the Temple?
jul 2018The Controversy Surrounding My Louis Jacobs Memorial Lecture
jun 2018Scandalous Halachic Decisions Ethiopians and Wine
jun 2018Parashat Chukat The Curse of Religious Coercion
jun 2018Conversion An Open Letter to Israel’s Chief Rabbis
jun 2018Parashat Behaalotecha Theocracy, Democracy, and Halacha *
mei 2018Why a Second Day Yom Tov? The Incomparable Greatness of the Land of Israel
mei 2018Atheism: Belief in the Unbelievable I have tried to be an atheist, but skepticism always got in the way
mei 2018Parshat Bechukotai To Have or to Be, That Is the Question
mei 2018Sefirat HaOmer The Secret to Human and Rabbinical Autonomy
apr 2018The Tragedy and the Challenge A Forgotten Mission
apr 2018Seventy Years of an Unyielding 3,330-Year Marriage Yom Ha'atzmaut
apr 2018Yom HaShoa – Jewish Life or Just Israeli Life? Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai or A.B. Yehoshua?
mrt 2018The Great Mystery: Why Karpas?
mrt 2018Plato’s Haggada in the “Dialogues”
mrt 2018An Open Letter to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the Charedi Leadership
mrt 2018Collapsed Halacha and Moshe’s Mask
mrt 2018Megillat Esther and the Nervous-Syndrome Chess Game
feb 2018Conversion and the Birth of Amalek A Warning to the Chief Rabbinate
feb 2018Finding One's Neshome (1) Franz Rosenzweig and the Berliner Shtiebel
feb 2018The Enduring Preciousness of the Secular Jew *
feb 2018The Challenge of Yitro Would Yóu Convert?
jan 2018Parshat BeShalach Jewish Self Delusion
jan 2018Circumcision: Why Risk Your Child's Well-Being? A Call to All Israelis.
jan 2018Moses The Successful Failure
jan 2018Jesus, a Warning to Our Rabbis
dec 2017Halacha Means Full Liberty To Be Secular Would Be Hell: Everything Would Be Forbidden
dec 2017Soul Jews and Halachic Jews
dec 2017Codifying Jewish Law is Not Authentic
dec 2017Jewish Law (Halacha) as Rebellion
nov 2017Be Fearful of Religion Parashat VaYetze
nov 2017The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu
nov 2017The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu
nov 2017The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu Lectures and the Academy
okt 2017The Wonder of Judaism The Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu
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, ...
jun 2017The Waters of Strife The Devastation of Religious Coercion Parshat Chukat
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