Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Albert Einstein and the Existence of God

“The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books - a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.”

Albert Einstein

What Is A Mitzvah? by Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene

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A mitzvah is a commandment -- one of the taryag mitzvot, 613 commandments, relating to Jewish observance and religious practice. The commandments are the centerpiece of Judaism because they are where faithfulness to God and His Torah translate into action! Every sphere of human activity falls under the Torah's authority. From rising in the morning to retiring at night, from birth until death, the commandments encompass every area of Jewish life.

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from "SET IN STONE." Published by Targum Press

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jewish Law as a Device for Personal Refinement

"Halakhah (Jewish law) aims to sanctify man’s body, refine the bestial aspects of human life with all their lusts and drives, and raise them to the level of divine service. But this refining process does not take place in a crucible of denial and deprivation; [it occurs by] stamping the natural aspects of human existence with direction and purposefulness. Combining the beast in man with his divine image purifies and sanctifies the body. This union is accomplished by imposing the yoke of the halakhic commandments on the body. The purpose of the halakhic imperative is not to label man’s sensual body as impure and thus reject it, but to purify it and draw it closer to God."

R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, From There You Shall Seek, trans. Naomi Goldblum (Jersey City, NJ: MeOtzar HaRav, Ktav, 2008), 111-2

Fighting Against Injustice

"Judaism, in contradistinction to mystical quietism, which recommended toleration of pain, wants man to cry out aloud against any kind of pain, to react indignantly to all kinds of injustice or unfairness. For Judaism held that the individual who displays indifference to pain and suffering, who meekly reconciles himself to the ugly, disproportionate and unjust in life, is not capable of appreciating beauty and goodness. Whoever permits his legitimate needs to go unsatisfied will never be sympathetic to the crying needs of others." 

Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, “Redemption, Prayer, Talmud Torah.”

Finding God in Nature and Beyond

"Abraham, the knight of faith, according to our tradition, sought and discovered God in the starlit heavens of Mesopotamia. Yet, he felt an intense loneliness and could not find solace in the silent companionship of God, whose image was reflected in the boundless stretches of the cosmos. Only when he met God on earth as Father, Brother, and Friend - not only along the uncharted astral routes - did he feel redeemed."  

Joseph B. Soloveitchik, The Lonely Man of Faith,  (Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1995), p. 49. 

What Religion Doesn't Offer

"The error of modern representatives of religion is that they promise their congregants the solution to all the problems of life − an expectation which religion does not fulfill. Religion, on the contrary, deepens the problems but never intends to solve them. The grandeur of religion lies in its mysterium tremendum its magnitude and its ultimate incomprehensibility. To cite one example, we may adduce the problem of theodicy, the justification of evil in the world, that has tantalized the inquiring mind from time immemorial till this last tragic decade. The acuteness of this problem has grown for the religious person in essence and dimensions. 

When a minister, rabbi, or priest attempts to solve the ancient question of Job's suffering through as sermon or lecture, he does not promote religious ends, but, on the contrary, does them a disservice. The beauty of religion with its grandiose vistas reveals itself to men, not in solutions but in problems, not in harmony but in the constant conflict of diversified forces and trends." 

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, "Sacred and Profane", Gesher, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 7 in Besdin, A, Reflections of the Rav, p. 224