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 26 mei 2017

A desert is 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. There are only deadly snakes and scorpions. In a desert, death stares you in the face. It is a dangerous place, unlivable and outrageous.

But the desert is also a magnificent place, filled with grandeur and full of life. It is a place where many things can happen which are not possible in any other location. First and foremost, it is a place of authenticity. Because it is a place where a sound, a Voice, can travel as in no other place. It has all the sound options that a musician can dream of. It can reach the deepest of its meanings and the highest of its dreams. In a desert a sound can travel to the end of the world. There are no obstacles standing in its way. In a desert a Voice can turn in any direction it desires and take on any dimension with no fear of corruption.

In a desert there are no walls by which the sound will be cut short. It is, above all, a place where a sound will not be disturbed or troubled by other sounds that may overwhelm it or even silence it.

Why? Because a desert is a place of devastating silence. There are no distractions; there is no clash of voices. No competition.

If there is ever to be an authentic Voice to be heard, it is here in the desert. It can’t be undermined and falsified, using it for selfish purposes. It is because of the desert’s thundering silence that it is possible to hear a “still voice” with no obstruction. It cannot bear mediocrity, even when it is original and thought of as novel. Instead, it seeks singular excellence even when most men cannot recognize it as such. It protests against those who are appeased when they can find something old in the new, whereas it is clear that this old could not have given birth to this new.

The Egyptian French poet, Edward Jabès, noted the relationship between the Hebrew words “dabar”, word, and “midbar”, desert. This, he claims, goes to the core of what a Jew is all about:
“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 wandering people. No oasis for it, no shadow, no peace. Only the immense, thirsty desert, only the book of his thirst….” (From The Book to the Book, Wesleyan University Press, 1991, pp 166-7)

Here, in the emptiness and silence of the desert, the authentic Word can be heard. A Word stripped of all distractions. Naked, without any excuse. But it can only be heard 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 the borders of any restricted place. They are particularistic so as to be universalistic. They are never satisfied with their spiritual conditions and are therefore always on the road, looking for more. A wandering people carried by a wandering Word which can never permanently land because the runway is too narrow and they cannot fit into any end destination. A people who always experience unrest because they carry the Word which doesn’t fit anywhere and wanders in the existential condition of an unlimited desert. A Word which unnerves because it is rooted in the desert where, if not properly handled, it becomes deadly.

It needs a people who received the Word before having received their land. More than that, a people to whom the Word itself gave birth. The Word is the mother of the people. A people who can make their land into a portable homeland, carrying it to any corner of the earth because their land is a Word. It is the land which depends on the Word and not the Word which depends on the land. Here the Word is the author of the people; the people are not the author of the Word. The homeland is the “Text”- the Word. (George Steiner) They dwell in the Word and become real, because the Word is the father of its readers and not vice versa.

A desert is even more. It is a place where nothing can be achieved. In a desert man cannot prove himself, at least not in the conventional sense of the word. 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 us around and no fellow workers with whom we are in competition. It is “prestige deprived”. In a desert there is no “kavod/honor” to be obtained. It doesn’t have cities, homes, fences. Once it has these, it is no longer a desert. Human achievements will end its desert status and will undermine and destroy the grandeur of its might and beauty. Man 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. Men’s garments grow with them and do not need changing or cleaning because they are as pure as can be. 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 of another world which one can never hear in the city or on a job. The desert allows for authentic thinking, without obstacles, and therefore it is able to break through and remove from us any artificial thoughts which do not identify with our deeper souls. Nothing spiritual gets lost in us, because the fences of our thoughts become neutralized and no longer bar the way to our inner life. It is ultimate liberty. It teaches us that openness does not mean surrender to what is most “in”, or powerful. Nor does it consist of vulgar successes made into a principle.

This is the reason why the Torah could only have been given in a desert - Midbar. Why did God not give the Torah in a civilized place? Had God given it on Wall Street, He would have had to decide who would sit on the Board of Investors. He would have had to deal with the “politics of friendships” and personal agendas of how much interest to give and where to invest. Had He given the Torah in Israel, He would have had to decide whether to give it in ultra-Orthodox Bnei Berak, Jerusalem, High Tech Tel Aviv or a Marxist kibbutz. (1)

God didn’t want shareholders or agendas to pollute His words and make them “user friendly” in ways which would compromise His very Word. So He chose the desert. A place without any personal motives. The ideal place to fall in love because there is no competition. And because love is the irresistible desire to be desired irresistibly (Louis Ginsberg), only a Midbar can become the home of lovers – the Giver of the Word and the receivers of the Voice to be married under the canopy of authenticity.

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

With this statement the Sages introduce a most important insight concerning God, the nature of Torah and the desert. They cannot bear artificial, unauthentic ideas which are sold in the superficiality of this world.

In a Midbar one can hear an authentic Voice and immediately distinguish it from the artificial word, because the authentic Voice will protest without delay. It has no place to hide, so it will run up against a wall and instead of being silenced will become nearly violent and unrelenting. The wall will start to shake and will ultimately collapse because it is not really rooted in a desert.

The “authentic” is perhaps not to be found when deliberately pursued, but there is no missing it when it is present. As such, it will become a “commanding voice” which can make us nervous since it becomes disturbing and unbearable. It becomes a deadly, poisonous snake for those who have not shaped themselves as desert people.

A desert is still more. It is also a place where the word cannot be caught and locked up. In can’t be framed and manipulated. Yes, to activate the world and make an imprint on it, it has to come down and respond to the “here and now”. It must allow for fences and limitations whenever needed. Limitations can be great emancipators. But it must always carry the “tomorrow and over there”. To have any effect, it must borrow from the world of man and his language. But it needs to have an escape. It must be like a fishnet which captures its mundane needs, but with holes so that the ongoing flow of water will not get caught up in the net itself. It must be a thoroughfare for all genuine thoughts, always looking for a new destination which will allow for ever further lands in which to give birth to new philosophies, new Halacha (2) and spirituality.

This is the purpose of a real Beth Hamidrash. It has to be a desert. Filled with possibilities of the Word, whose time may not yet have arrived but which is already in the philosophical and halachic air; or whose time has come but the listeners and “appliers” of Torah and Halacha have not been able to recognize it. They have become caught up in the fishnet and cannot free themselves because of their own self-imposed imprisonment.

A real Beth Midrash is a place where the Word is able to breathe, where it can swim through the fishnet looking for new beaches.

But how true it is that this road is full of snakes and other dangers. It is a risky place. To look into the future for the sake of the present always involves risks. To run up against the current waves of water is difficult and one can drown, but not to do so is to commit suicide.

The only quality which can save us from the snakes in this desert is the awe of Heaven. Only this quality can save us from falling into the hands of the serpent. But it can be done and therefore it must be done so as to reveal the Word given in the desert and to allow it all the space it deserves.

Avraham found God in the desert and so the people of Israel received the Torah in a place of ultimate authenticity: The Desert of devastating conditions and great opportunities. It is a dangerous place, but a desert it must be. Whoever thinks that the Divine Word is commonplace and easily lived by, has never been in the Ultimate desert of his life.



(1) Shavuoth, Anonymous, Amsterdam, 28.5.2009

(2) See my “Towards a New Halacha”, audio lecture, Toronto, Sept 13, 2008.

Delen |

Uw reactie:

vul de beveiligings-code in
aug 2019When Times Change, Jewish Education Changes
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