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Issue 9.2: Nature

The word “nature” is rich with differing meanings. When a chemist describes something as “natural,” a purveyor of organic food products might disagree[i]. One person’s proclivity in any number of realms might be described as unnatural by those who do not share them, but is perfectly natural to those who do.  Read more →

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Editor’s Thoughts: Nature and Its Discontents

  The word “nature” is rich with differing meanings. When a chemist describes something as “natural,” a purveyor of organic food products might disagree[i]. One person’s proclivity in any number of realms might be described as unnatural by those who do not share them, but is ... Read more →

Art, Torah, and Nature: An Interview with Rabbi Ozer Glickman

Rabbi Ozer Glickman is a Rosh Yeshivah at RIETS and teaches about the intersection of Halakhah and business at Sy Syms School of Business. Over the last few months, Rabbi Glickman and I have chatted about a number of topics. Through these conversations, his deep knowledge of art history, the ... Read more →

The Natural and Spiritual Light: The Duality of Hanukkah

Idolatry, the single greatest temptation of the ancient Jew, holds the attention of the biblical narrative with a choking grip until the destruction of the first Temple. Rambam explains this obsession as a gradual evolution.[i] When man first bowed to the luminary bodies he did so as an ... Read more →

Bricks and Stones: On Man’s Subdual of Nature

Like so many of the stories that make up the first sections of Bereshit, the Torah’s account of the Babylonian bricklayers, builders of the “Tower of Babel,” is extraordinarily cryptic. Interpretations abound, and one would not be hard-pressed to find many varied explanations of this ... Read more →

For it is not in Heaven…or is it?: On the Halakhot and Hashkafot of Space Travel

On the twentieth of July 1969, after four days of travel, two men set foot on the moon for the first time in history. Hundreds of millions heard Commander Neil Armstrong’s famous words “…one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” as he traversed the final frontier.[i] The ... Read more →

The Jewish Response to the Theory of Evolution

The question of how to proceed when science and Torah seem to be in conflict is not new among rabbinic figures. Over the centuries, various strategies have been used to provide what is, in the views of each individual rabbinic authority, the proper approach when this occurs, whether it be ... Read more →

Of Sensitivity and Humility: An Exposition of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein’s Approach to the Suffering of Others

  Over the course of the last century, two immeasurably significant events occurred in Jewish history. The first was the Holocaust, which consisted of the murder of six million Jews and the suffering of countless more. The second was the establishment of the State of Israel, a redemption ... Read more →

Rashi, Tosafot, and Hazal’s Knowledge of Tanakh

  The Jerusalem Talmud[i] records the tradition that the Tannaitic sage Shmuel could recall the midwife who delivered him. R. Yehoshua ben Levi stated that he could remember his mohel. R. Yohanan claimed he could even remember the women who happened to be in the room when his mother gave ... Read more →

Maimonides and the Mean of Doctrines

Just about every essay written about Maimonides and the contradictions apparent in his philosophic magnum opus, the Guide for the Perplexed, begins with some pithy statement about how Maimonides’ use of contradictions created more controversy than conclusions. Arthur Hyman, in his essay, ... Read more →

Sanctuary and Sacrifice: Rambam’s View of Korbanot

Introduction Earlier this year, writing for The Times of Israel, in an open letter to God, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz claimed that the idea of animal sacrifice is outdated. “Your people,” he writes, addressing Hashem, “must be a light to the nations, not a source of darkness by returning to ... Read more →

Editor’s Thoughts: A Philosophical Approach

As a result of its gruesome explication in the liturgies of Yom Kippur and Tish’ah be-Av, the death of R. Hanina ben Teradyon, one of the Ten Martyrs, is a widely known story. A version of this aggadah, recorded in the Sifrei Devarim,[i] describes that when it was decreed that R. Hanina ben ... Read more →

Behind the Beards: A Philosophical Survey of Modern Orthodox Neo-Hasidism

  You have seen their flowing beards and pe’ot. You have seen their gartlach (prayer belts) and pocket editions of Sihot Ha-Ran. Perhaps you have even seen them clap and jump in your otherwise uneventful morning minyan. We all call them neo-Hassidim, a term coined to account for the ... Read more →

What is Divine “Power?”

  Can God create a rock so heavy that even He cannot lift it? Theologians have been debating this question, known formally as the “omnipotence paradox,” since at least the middle ages. In a sense, the premise behind it is nonsensical: to suggest that something unlimited might actually ... Read more →

Ahad Ha’am and His Dream for Israel’s Soul

On December 21, 2014, the second night of Hanukkah, Project 929, an online initiative committed to studying one chapter of Tanakh each day, was launched.  The goal of the site is to “help Israelis from all walks of life understand how the biblical text is relevant to them from a social ... Read more →