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I have seen the vision of RSRH ignite the souls of master teachers, starting with my great mentor, Rav Nachman Bulman, zt”l. Inspired by them, I have always encouraged my students to ask questions, and tried to do my best to address them. I believe they are the stronger for it.
Major sections of Torah literature simply have no consistent, systematized approach outside the writings of RSRH. I have hundreds and hundreds of beautiful vertlach and longer insights on Chumash Vayikra, but no one besides RSRH takes all the details of the mishkan, all details of every korban, and combines them in a unified whole.
For people like myself who are frequently challenged by others, sometimes smirky and sometimes sincere, to make sense out of individual sections of the Torah, no one comes close to RSRH. Whether to believer or agnostic, RSRH’s approach to symbolism in particular almost never fails to elicit interest and spark thought and begrudging admiration in all but the most cynical critics.
Most important, many of us somehow sense within our souls that the world as a whole is a beautiful place. We believe that many people we meet outside our community live lives of value and integrity, and desperately attempt to connect with God. They have a role to play, and Hashem has a message for them. We believe that the trajectory of human civilization has been, on the whole , in a forward direction, rather than the reverse, despite many setbacks and disappointments.
We believe that there are truths to be discovered (the yesh chochmah bagoyim of the Gemara) by exposure to general culture. We reject the notion that beyond the perimeters of our community is a vast cesspool. There is much depravity, to be sure, but there is also much good. We are grateful to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for having given us a Torah that provides us with the tools to make the proper selection. We have discerned in our own lives that the Torah has much to offer the rest of humanity, not just with the advent of Mashiach, but even today.
We also fully believe that Torah can and must illuminate every (permissible) nook and cranny of the planet, that there is a way to be a Torah attorney, a Torah carpenter, a Torah journalist, a Torah politician. These are not bedieveds, but for the right people, lechatchilas, each according to his or her God-given talents. We find no one who writes as much and as convincingly about the mandate for Torah Jews to take Torah everywhere as does RSRH.
Lastly, we find ourselves in a Torah world that increasingly opts for limitation, which sees restriction and a narrowing of creativity, individuality and worldview as the best way to avoid problems. For many of us, this does not and cannot work. We are buoyed by the great vision of RSRH and reminded that Rav Shimon Schwab, zt”l, said that Torah Im Derech Eretz “means the Torah’s conquest of life and not the Torah’s flight from life. It means the Torah’s casting a light into the darkness rather than hiding from the darkness. It means applying Torah to the earth and not divorcing it from the earth.”
There are thousands upon thousands for whom all of these are apparent truths. Whether they recognize it or not, their lives and values are consistent with what RSRH had in mind for us.
Now as never before, I am proud to be a Hirschian.
About the Author: Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is director of Interfaith Affairs of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and the Sydney M Irmas adjunct chair, Jewish Law and Ethics, Loyola Law School.
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Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state
Blaming Israel for the violence in Gaza, he ends up justifying Hamas’s terrorism.
In the Thirties it was common for anti-Semites to call on Jews to “go to Palestine!”
“This arbitrary ban is an ugly stain on our democracy, and it also undermines the rule of law.”
We take US “aid” for psychological reasons-if we have an allowance, that means we have a father.
ZIM Piraeus isn’t Israeli-owned or flagged, incidentally, it is Greek operated.
Foolish me, thinking the goals were the destruction of Hamas thereby giving peace a real chance.
The free-spirted lifestyle didn’t hold your interest; the needs of your people did.
And why would the U.S. align itself on these issues with Turkey and Qatar, longtime advocates of Hamas’s interests?
Several years ago the city concluded that the metzitzah b’peh procedure created unacceptable risks for newborns in terms of the transmission of neo-natal herpes through contact with a mohel carrying the herpes virus.
The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.
We were quite disappointed with many of the points the secretary-general offered in response.
Judging by history, every time Hamas rebuilds their infrastructure, they are stronger than before.
A monastery in Israel is desecrated, almost certainly by nationalist extremists.
The desecration was condemned by the prime minister and others in the government. Chief Rabbi Metzger called it a “heinous deed.” The Internal Security minister did not hesitate to use the word “terror” and announced the formation of a special police unit to combat it. Many people traveled to the monastery to personally apologize, including Rabbi Dov Lipman of Beit Shemesh, who took brush in hand to help scrub the offensive words from the walls.
The one hundred and thirty children and young adults share two things. They are all Jewish, and they all contend daily with serious and debilitating illness. Many of them have done so all of their lives. You would think spending time with them would provide the ultimate mussar ride for Elul, an in-your-face confrontation with your own mortality, and the need to be grateful to God for life itself and the parts of it we take for granted.
It doesn’t take very much to lose a neshamah.
The young woman was witty, charming, frum, and a Harvard Law School graduate. She was also black, and lived in an Orthodox neighborhood. One Purim, she was treated in a neighborhood shul to the sight of a young mother with a few children in tow. As her Purim get-up, the mother had chosen to adorn herself and her kids with blackface and thick lips. The connection to Purim was not clear.
“I don’t care what group you identify with, as long as you are ashamed of it.” There is much wisdom in the throwaway line with which Dennis Prager frequently challenges audiences to admit to the flaws of the groups with which they identify.
Ayatollahs in business suits is what Noah Feldman would have the world believe we all are. If the Orthodox were going to leave him out of his alma mater’s reunion picture just because he married out, then Noah Feldman was going to out the Orthodox.
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