web analytics
April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



JEWISH BOOK

For God’s Sake!?

You don't have to be 'right' – to be correct.

For Gods Sake Cover 477x292

Share Button

The Jewish Press Online is proud to launch our Bookshelf series, offering our readers selected chapters from recently published, quality Jewish books. We plan to introduce relatively unknown Jewish authors, and encourage our readers to purchase their books online. To inquire about having your book included in our new project, please contact us via the Jewish Press Contact Form.

Introduction

Haim Burg

Chaim Burg

Over the past three thousand five hundred years, the Jewish people have gone through a tumultuous history and radical changes.

The Jews went from wanderers in the desert to an agricultural society. From a band of 12 tribes to a unified kingdom and then a divided country. From living in their own land to a dispersed nation to once again a nation living in their land. From a semi-literate population to world class geniuses.

The major thread found throughout this rollercoaster saga is the important role the Torah played in the lives of the Jews. No matter where or what their circumstances were – Torah was their master blue print, their day-to-day guide of every aspect of living.

At Mt. Sinai the Jews received the written Torah as well as parts of the Oral Law. The two form a single unit – because the written Torah can not possibly be understood or practiced correctly without the definitions and explanations found in the Oral Law.

While the written Torah always remained with the Jews, at various times parts of the Oral Law were lost and had to be retrieved. The discussions and arguments that led to its retrieval (as well as other material), were committed to writing and are found in the Talmud.

The laws given at Mount Sinai are the law – the practice and application is halachah. The laws don’t change-halachah can.

To remain viable in the varied history of the Jewish people, practices of Jewish law had to go through changes, adaptations and variations. These are reflected in the multitude of customs, practices and rabbinic decisions over the years.

Elements of the actual practice could be changed because of halachah’s (Jewish law’s) internal, built-in flexibility. While it is true that the actual practice might be flexible and that the ruling may be more stringent or more lenient, they all must fall within the framework and bounds of Torah.

Frequently the changes were introduced to protect Torah- (the Law) true Judaism. Other times to protect the population. Often to placate the surrounding non-Jewish population. And occasionally to protect Jews from other Jews.

The totally observant life of the Jews in the time of the Temples was not exactly the same as for those who lived in the shteitle (European Jewish villages). And the lives of Jews in the era of the Rishonim (Jewish scholars c.1000-1600) are not precisely like ours today.

This doesn’t refer to the march of time and science – but to actual practices – whether in the area of rearing children or observing the Shabbat – the matzah (unleavened bread) eaten on Pessach or the relationship between Jews and non-Jews.

Halachic decisions by both well-known and not so famous rabbis have been shown to vary from very strict to extremely lenient. And so the concept of not necessarily taking the stringent route is, and always has been, an integral and familiar facet of Jewish law.

Yet, when we look at so many of the practices and rulings of the current era we see that leniency (kulah) is out – stringency (chumrah) is in.

Elements of the practice have changed because of halachah’s internal, built-in flexibility. Halachah is flexible – but the Torah remains constant. In fact, the Torah’s diligence and eternity was made possible due to the elasticity and resiliency of halachah.

This book presents a series of ideas, thoughts, facts and ways of thinking that play an important role in Jewish life. It can be considered food for thought or ‘I never thought of it in this light’.

The book refers to stringencies in practices that various individuals or groups take upon themselves that exceed halachic requirements.

Today, the tendency is to go the chumrah route. Chumrah is a technical word with many legal implications. I use the word chumrah to specifically denote partaking in a more stringent practice.

Share Button

About the Author: Chaim Burg was born in New York and was strongly influence by the teachings of Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik and Rabbi Z.D. Kanotopsky. A graduate of Cooper Union, Burg spent most of his active business career as a communications consultant for major U.S. and international corporations. A well regarded author and lecturer, he mainly deals with thought provoking views on the evolution of Halacha. Burg made aliya in 1975.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “For God’s Sake!?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
HAS and El Al have ended their long-standing partnership.
Breaking: HAS Credit Card Points Now Worthless for El Al Flights
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

More Articles from Chaim Burg
God-and teh world

For God’s Sake!?, Chapter 3

Our Glorious Gutsy Past

For God’s Sake!?, Chapter 3

You don’t have to be ‘right’ – to be correct.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/the-book-shelf/for-gods-sake/2013/04/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: