Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
A classic story found in the book of Shmuel deals with the sin of King David. According to the simple interpretation of the text, David, upon peering at a nearby rooftop, saw a beautiful woman bathing. Despite the fact that she was married and her husband was in battle fighting for Israel, David invited her to his castle and had relations with her. The woman, whose name was Bat-Sheva, became pregnant.
In order to cover up his misdeed, King David recalled Bat-Sheva’s husband, Uriah, from battle. If Uriah renewed relations with his wife, it would be assumed that the baby growing inside Bat Sheva’s womb was his. When Uriah returned home, however, he refused to see his wife. How, he asked, could he be with his wife when the soldiers of Israel were in battle?
David eventually sends Uriah back to the front lines with a secret message to his general, Yoav. In this note David instructs Yoav to abandon Uriah in the heat of battle, leaving him alone on the front lines to face certain death. Yoav follows the order and Uriah is killed. When the news reaches King David, he immediately marries Bat Sheva with the hope that the child Bat Sheva was carrying would be attributed to him. But Natan the prophet rebukes David for his sin, and the child born to Bat-Sheva and David dies after only a short time.
The Talmud in various places deals with this issue. At times our sages justify King David’s behavior and posit that anyone who believes David sinned is wrong. Such a theory obviously goes against the simple meaning of the text. Indeed, there are counter-statements arguing that David was punished numerous times for this sin.
So, then, can our leaders ever be wrong? Do we have an obligation to always portray our sages as infallible – almost God-like – figures?
As an extension of those questions, if our gedolim express an opinion regarding science or medicine, must they always be right? While we recognize the authority of our religious leaders when it comes to issues of Jewish law, do we also extend this to the fields of science, astronomy and medicine?
There was a great dispute a couple of years ago over the publication of the book The Making of a Gadol. The argument was centered on the portrayal of a certain gadol when he was young and impetuous, before he made his tremendous impact on the Jewish world. In short, a portion of his life was described in a less than favorable light.
The book was recalled and the original put in cherem (excommunication). A new copy was published with the unfavorable depictions of the gadol safely deleted.
In a more recent book, Mysterious Creatures, author Nosson Slifkin examined a number of creatures described in the Talmud and cited apparent contradictions with modern scientific thought. This book also was placed in cherem, ostensibly because our sages in the Talmud can never be wrong, even when dealing with questions of science or medicine.
When I study of the experiences of King David or the challenges of our gedolim when they were young, I gain more respect and admiration for them. To me, it is refreshing to learn that even our great leaders had trials in their lives yet were able to withstand their inclinations and develop into the great people they ultimately became.
The Talmud is replete with stories of sages whose pasts were questionable. The great Rabbi Akiva is described as an unlearned person who had little respect for the rabbis. The Talmud describes his inability to comprehend even the most elementary aspects of Judaism. Yet he aspired to become a most learned rabbi, a leader of the Jewish people.
About the Author: Rabbi Mordechai Weiss is principal of the Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy of Greater Hartford. Any comments can be e-mailed to him at Ravmordechai@aol.com.
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Why has his death been treated by some as an invitation for an emotional “autopsy”?
SWOT analysis: Assessing resources, internal Strengths&Weaknesses; external Opportunities&Threats.
Strategy? For the longest time Obama couldn’t be bothered to have one against a sworn enemy.
We started The Jewish Press. Arnie was an integral part of the paper.
Fear alone is substantial; without fusing it to beauty, fear doesn’t reach its highest potential.
Fortunate are we to have Rosh Hashanah for repentance, a shofar to awaken heavenly mercy.
Arab leaders who want the US to stop Islamic State are afraid of being dubbed traitors and US agents
National Lawyers Guild:Sworn enemy of Israel & the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the ’70s
A little less than 10 percent of eligible Democratic voters came out on primary day, which translates into Mr. Cuomo having received the support of 6.2 percent of registered Democrats.
The reality, though, is that the Israeli “war crimes” scenario will likely be played out among highly partisan UN agencies, NGOs, and perhaps even the International Criminal Court.
Peace or the lack of it between Israel and the Palestinians matters not one whit when it comes to the long-term agenda of ISIS and other Islamists, nor does it affect any of the long-running inter-Arab conflicts and wars.
Rather than serving as a deterrent against terrorist attacks, Israel’s military strength and capabilities are instead looked at as an unfair advantage in the asymmetrical war in which it finds itself.
When the Jewish people crossed the Red Sea, successfully escaping the clutches of the Egyptians, Moses gathered the Israelites together and they sang the famous “Az Yashir.” Miriam, Moses’s sister, also assembled the women as they danced with tambourines and sang “shiru lahashem ki gao gaa sus vrochbo rama bayam” – let us sing to Hashem for he is great, horse and chariot he drowned in the sea.”
As an educator, I was always intrigued with the trip on which my high school students would embark in their junior or senior year. The “March of the Living” allows a student to experience in a small way the immense tragedy our people endured during the Holocaust.
The first reference to Mount Sinai in the Torah occurs when our teacher Moses witnessed a strange phenomenon there. As he was shepherding his sheep he glanced up at the mountain and saw a thorn bush that was burning without being consumed by the fire.
Diversity in Judaism is common in our history and liturgy. One can visit many synagogues and observe that the order of davening and the text of siddur vary from shul to shul. When I’m in Israel I often attend the services in a Sephardi shul where the prayers and the sequence of taking the Torah from the ark and replacing it are vastly different from what I’m accustomed to.
Herzl was dead within a year, but his prophetic vision established him as the Father of modern Zionism.
Though the worship of God and our underlying relationship with Him are implicit in this text, the stress is on our relationship with people.
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