Judaism book extracts

On Chanucah and Jewish Nationalism

October 26, 2010

Silver From the Land of Israel - A New Light on the Sabbath and Holydays from the writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook

By Rabbi Chanan Morrison,
Urim Publications, $27.95

THE HIGHEST LOVE

Is there something idealistic and holy in loving the Jewish people? Or is this just another form of nationalism, an emotion far less noble than a universal love for all peoples?

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The minimal obligation during Chanucah is to light one candle each night of the holiday. The academies of Hillel and Shammai, however, disagreed as to the optimal way to light:

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What Kabbalah can teach the new Jewish world

June 21, 2010

Judaism Today
Dan Cohn Sherbok
Continuum, £14.99

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Exile and Redemption: the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Pesach

March 15, 2010

The Kol Menachem Haggadah - Slager Edition, The Gutnick Library of Jewish Classics, Compiled by Rabbi Chaim Miller, Kol Menachem, £19.99

From the Haggadah:

Blessed is He Who keeps His Promise to the Jewish People!

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Why we had to get married twice

March 11, 2010

Many couples from mixed United Synagogue–Masorti backgrounds feel coerced into holding dual ceremonies. Two Masorti families described their experiences.

“In 2009,” related the first, “our daughter was married in a Masorti synagogue, according to the law of Moses and of Israel, by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, before Shabbat-observant witnesses. The following day, she stood under a tallit in our sitting-room with her new husband for a shadow ceremony which apparently fulfilled the law of Jonathan Sacks and of the United Synagogue.

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The Chief Rabbi on Genesis

November 10, 2009

Genesis, the book of Bereshit, is as its name suggests, about beginnings: the birth of the universe, the origins of humanity, and the first chapters in the story of the people that would be known as Israel or (after the Babylonian exile) the Jews.

It tells of how this people began, first as an individual, Abraham, who heard a call to leave his land, birthplace and father’s house and begin a journey, then as a family; it closes as the extended family stands on the threshold of becoming a nation.

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The Diaspora is Doomed

June 26, 2009

Demographs have asserted that diaspora Jewry has lost a million of its sons and daughters in intermarriage and assimilation during the last two decades. They predict that in fifty years’ time only one and a half million of the present seven and a half million Jews will remain in the diaspora as a result of intermarriage and assimilation. Presently we are losing 60,000 young men and women every year.

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What the Talmud says about converts

May 27, 2009

The Talmud, A Selection, a new translation with an introduction by Norman Solomon, Penguin Classics, £16.99

Rabbi Solomon writes:

The anecdotes about Hillel and Shammai in Shabbat 31a indicate a strongly encouraging attitude towards converts, but the baraita below suggests caution, perhaps necessary when converts to Judaism lapsed and slandered Jews to the occupying authorities, or if they joined Christian or heretical sects and made a nuisance of themselves. This may be what lies behind Rabbi Chelbo’s caustic yet ambivalent comparison of converts to a “scab”.

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Where was God during the Crusades?

February 25, 2009

By the end of the 14th century the persecutions of previous centuries created among the Jews the need for a special prayer. It would be said for those parents, children, and the masses of co-religionists who had been killed while sanctifying God’s name. Speculation is that the need was caused by the fact that their gentile neighbours, who had also been affected by the plague, had special prayers for mourning and suffering, and the Jews needed their own versions of such prayers.

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The Power of Positive Thinking

December 9, 2008

Clearly, thoughtful optimism breeds success. Take a room full of CEOs, millionaires and others who have reached the pinnacle of their goals, and you’ll almost certainly find a room full of people who are, by their nature, optimistic and positive.

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The Origins of Kabbalah

December 9, 2008

The origins of Kabbalah are ancient.

According to Jewish tradition there are four levels of Torah knowledge. The first is called peshat, which means the plain or literal meaning of the text.

One must begin with the peshat before even beginning to contemplate moving beyond on to the next level. The second level is remez, which means hint.

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