The Thirteen Principles

Now that the month of Tamuz is here, I believe it is an appropriate time to discuss belief, Emunah.  An ideal place to start is Maimonides, who, writing in the 12th Century, was the first Jewish scholar to systematically list and explain the principles of Jewish belief.  His “Thirteen Ikarim,” principles of faith, became the most authoritative formulation and they are studied in Jewish communities around the world. A condensed ...

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Absolutely!

There is a popular misconception that “Judaism is not a religion of dogma” and that it makes no demands on belief.  However, it is clear from the Torah itself that there are obligations of the intellect as well as obligations of action. I am the Lord your God, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.  You shall not recognize the gods of others ...

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Simplicity

During the months of summer, I often find myself thinking of some of our memorable vacations. One comes to mind as especially enjoyable.  Our family attended a Shabbaton at Kesher Israel congregation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where I was scholar in residence.  The Rabbi, the synagogue and the community were all wonderful, warm, fantastic and incredibly hospitable. On the way there we visited the Amish in Lancaster County, took a buggy ride, ...

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Institutionalized Insomnia

The first time that I stayed up learning all night on Shavuos was when I was about 14 years old. We lived in Doncaster, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia and attended a traditional shul, which, until that year did not have a Rabbi.  The shul hired a young Rabbi, an American, Yeshiva University graduate, who had a profound influence on me.  One thing that I recall clearly was Shavuos night ...

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Responding to Tragedy

When, God forbid, a person hears of the death of a close relative or of anyone whose death causes him anguish he should say “Blessed are You God, Our God, King of the Universe, the True Judge.”[1]  In accordance with our belief that God is just and righteous, we accept upon ourselves His judgment; and even though the death causes us grief, we affirm our belief in God as the ...

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