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Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Hanukkah around the world.
I quit my full-time job eight months ago without another one to fall back on. In hindsight, it wasn’t one of my better decisions, but it was time for me to move forward. I was in a position that never quite suited me – like an ill-fitting pair of shoes that’s one size too small and rubs across the toes. Sure, a nagging thought called a recession cropped up from time-to-time before I resigned, but I was confident I would only be on the market for a few weeks, max. Armed with a new LinkedIn profile and a heaping dose of faith, I bid farewell to my boss and colleagues of six years to embark on my new journey.
For the most part, we Jews have always accepted the obligation to ward off disaster as best we can. For the most part, we generally understand that all humans have free will. Saadia Gaon included freedom of will among the most central teachings of Judaism, and Maimonides affirmed that all human beings must stand alone in the world “to know what is good and what is evil, with none to prevent him from either doing good or evil.”
The idea of a well-shackled mind being in a superior position to battle going OTD is certainly understandable. But in practice, the mind can no longer stay well-shackled. The internet is not only here to stay. Its ubiquity is increasing by leaps and bounds via the smart phone. No ban in the world has the power to stop it. It is like spitting in the wind.
When I began this article, I had intended to write about Anna Breslaw’s article in Tablet (www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/105853/breaking-bad-karma) where she basically defamed Holocaust survivors and called them “villains masquerading as heroes.” As I tried to organize my thoughts, I wondered how many young Jews agreed with Anna’s article. I realized that maybe the problem isn’t one article but that Judaism is not being taught correctly to my generation.
Leaders of two Jewish social action groups addressed a White House forum on faith-based social innovations. Shawn Landres, the founder of Jewish Jumpstart, and Jon...
Muslim integration into Europe is going swimmingly, much like the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the Arab Spring. It’s going like a house on fire, not to mention a bus, a lot of cars and two towers on fire—on the other side of the Atlantic. Whatever problems there are, as with the peace process and the spring process, are undoubtedly the fault of someone who isn’t a Muslim.
The power of faith is unmatched; it can lift man above adversity and help him climb the highest of mountains. It can help him overcome pain and torture. It can make him see the light in a night that is inky in its darkness. The Gaon Rav Tzvi Hirsh Levin manifested such a faith when he was a starving and poverty-stricken rav in Halberstat.
Last week I published a letter from a thirty-eight year old single woman who lamented that despite her having become a ba’alas teshuvah, forsaking her secular life, committing to Torah and mitzvos, going to rabbis, receiving berachot – in short, doing all the “right” things – she has failed to find her bashert, her soul mate. She wondered where G-d was and what all her sacrifices were all about. She was angry at G-d and regarded all her efforts as having been for naught. “My joy in Judaism has disappeared,” she wrote. The following is my response.
While the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) does not have statistics on how many of its 2,000 Reform rabbis in North America officiate at intermarriages, when pressed, Rabbi Hara Person, director of CCAR Press, estimated "it's about half." A resolution proposed at CCAR's 2008 annual convention called for dropping the official opposition to intermarriages. The resolution was tabled but the practice is now commonplace.
In my family alone, except for my brother, all of my cousins and second cousins married out of the faith – all of them. Finished. Kaput. The end of the line. After 5000 years of clinging to being Jewish, generation after generation, through times of harsh and often murderous oppression, the candle was snuffed out in the love boat of America.
We can walk among presidents and kings all week, but it is only as we ground ourselves on Friday and enter the Sabbath do we approach the True King. These men who spoke have voice but no real power. They do not determine the present and future of Israel. As we entwine strands of dough, we are entwined with our land, our people, our faith and most of all, with God. It is this act, of preparing the challah and caring for our families that Jewish women have done for millennia.
Shoshana Bluth’s telephone number is a help hotline for mothers and wives of Israeli soldiers – a hotline of faith, emunah in Hebrew.
The message of the Biblical account of the Spies has tremendous relevance today, here in the modern State of Israel. With a nuclear threat from Iran, enemy states on its borders, the ever-constant fear of terrorism, and pressure from the International Community, Israel is not without its challenges. But it’s also the ‘Start Up Nation,’ with a healthy, growing economy when most of the world’s economies are failing.