Issue 8.3: Jewish Community: Models and Ideals

Editor’s Thoughts: Is there an Ideal Jewish Community?

The fourth Mishnah in the second chapter of Pirkei Avot teaches “al tifrosh min ha-tzibbur— do not separate from the community.” Community is an integral aspect of Jewish practice and we have mitzvot such as those that fall under “devarim she-bikedusha” that cannot be done by ... Read more →

Of Blood and Hope: Building a Community: Lessons Learned with Max Profeta

In Parashat Vayechi, after Ya’akov’s death, the Torah spends numerous verses describing the narrative of the mourning process for Ya’akov as well as his funeral procession to Eretz Yisrael. Amongst what is a rather lengthy description, there’s one verse which seems somewhat unnecessary; ... Read more →

Communal Cry: The Paradox of Tefillah Be-Tsibbur

A well-known midrash[i] gives prayer the moniker “avodah she-be-leiv,” “service of the heart.” Tefillah thus takes on an intensely individual character. Unsurprisingly, the image of Hannah’s highly personal prayer dominates our heritage’s perspective on shemoneh esreih, the ... Read more →

Rabbi Shimon Shkop’s Imitatio Dei and the Value of Fun

Of the lesser-known teachers of RIETS’ past, Rabbi Shimon Shkop (1860-1939) definitely ranks near the top of the list. That isn’t to say that Rabbi Shimon Shkop is less-known. Far from it, as a close colleague of Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan (the “Chofetz Chaim”) and Rabbi Chaim Ozer ... Read more →

Joining the IDF – An American Religious Zionist’s Dilemma

Of the Korahites. A Psalm. A Song. The Lord loves the gates of Zion His foundation on the holy mountains, More than all the dwelling of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you O city of God.   Selah. I mention Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me; Philistia, and Tyre and Cush – ... Read more →

Moshe Strikes the Rock: Failed Leadership, or Failed “Followership?”

I. A well-known Native American proverb states: “Never criticize a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.” This is straightforward advice, yet it can be notoriously difficult to implement. According to social psychologists, we tend to underestimate the role that people’s ... Read more →

When Nature Rebels: Insights from Rabbi Soloveitchik’s The Lonely Man of Faith

Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 present two parallel accounts of the creation of the world and, specifically, mankind. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik addresses this issue in his seminal work, The Lonely Man of Faith, which was originally published as an essay in the journal Tradition in 1965.[i] In ... Read more →

Elu Va-elu Divrei Elokim Hayyim and the Question of Multiple Truths

The[i] Mishnah in Masekhet Avot teaches about two types of Mahloket. It states, “Every dispute that is [for the sake of] heaven’s name, it is destined to endure. But if it is not [for the sake of] heaven’s name—it is not destined to endure.” The Mishnah continues to explain, ... Read more →

“Lovers of Humanity”: Rav Kook, Christianity, and the Ongoing Censorship of His Writings

In the year 1920, a twelve-page pamphlet was written and distributed in pre-Israel Palestine called Kol Shofar.[i] It contained an extended criticism of and invective against Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who was then the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. Some of the criticism was directed toward Rav ... Read more →

Evolution Of A Revolution: A Review of “Joshua” by Rabbi Michael Hattin

Considering the sheer antiquity of the Tanakh as we have it, coupled with the phenomenal amount of scholarly ink shed over the millennia in various analytical, homiletic and exegetical endeavours that comprise our magnificent textual heritage, one could perhaps be forgiven for assuming that we ... Read more →