Posts Tagged 'rabbi michael samuel'

A Thanksgiving Meditation

Once upon a time, some American tourists went to Mexico on a vacation; they toured some hot springs, where they saw the natives washing their clothes! One tourist said to his guide, “My, isn’t it wonderful how Mother Nature provides her children with hot water to wash their clothes?” The tour-guide replied, “So you might think, Senor, but the natives complain that Mother Nature doesn’t provide the soap!”

It’s been said that the hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables ...

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Teaching our children to become “Serious Jews.”

Children never cease to amaze me …This past Sunday, Prof. James Cohen invited me to speak to his Sunday school class to examine whether having a religious  identity is more important than having a Jewish ethnic identity. Personally, I believe that being a healthy Jew involves a mixture of both the religious and the cultural. Of course such discussions often lead to broader issues pertaining to the age-old question: What does it mean to be a Jew today?

In the interest ...

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Did Maimonides really believe in a physical resurrection or not?

Maimonides’ position on the soul is very complex and this subject remains of the more controversial topics of Jewish intellectual history. Certainly in his commentary to the Mishnah, Maimonides includes the belief in bodily resurrection among the basic tenants of faith listed in his famous Thirteen Articles of Belief.

However, in Maimonides’ most mature work, the philosophical tract known as “The Guide to the Perplexed,” the great philosopher stresses the belief in the soul’s immortality and says nothing about physical resurrection.

One ...

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When rabbinic leaders fail us: The Motty Borger Tragedy (updated)

Talmudic wisdom urges us to be circumspect with our behavior as a community when a tragedy strikes home. Because of our collective and corporate sense of identity, we are all responsible for the moral condition of our communities. This idea can be seen in one of the more peculiar precepts found in the Torah known as the  eglei aruphah. The precept derives from Deuteronomy 21:1-9, which centers on the discovery of a corpse near a community.

“If the corpse of a ...

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Maimonides’ Practical Advice: On Feigning Apostasy . . .

Maimonides’ famous Iggerot Hashmad (“A  Letter Concerning Apostasy”) was written in the year 1160 during a time when Almohades Muslims were forcing people everywhere to recite the Muslim Creed. Failure to comply meant execution.

One rabbinical scholar in Fez, Morocco exclaimed that any Jew who publicly uttered the Moslim confession–regardless whether they in truth practiced Judaism incognito—could no longer be considered a Jew. Outraged by this rabbi’s insensitive rabbinical response, Maimonides wrote a letter, where he demonstrates how this Moroccan rabbi  ...

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