Archive for 'Maimonidean Wisdom'

Rabbinic Altered States of Consciousness?

The subject of demonology has fascinated me ever since I first began reading scary stories as a child. In our culture today, the belief in demonic spirits continues to play a role in literature, movies, and religion. The recent stories about Rabbi Batzri and his exorcisms show that in Haredi and Hassidic communities, the belief in demonic possession is still very much alive and well–irregardless whether such malevolent entities exist or not.

In the world of the psyche, the imagination runs ...

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Con-Versing with Jewish Mysticism: Maimonides’ Understanding of the Mezuzah’s Purpose

Philosopher Moses Maimonides believed that superstition undermines Judaism as a rational belief system.  For him, the purpose of mezuzah has nothing to do with protection, but rather, serves as a didactic device that teaches us about the importance of making ethical monotheism a part of our daily lives. There can be no doubt that Maimonides would have considered the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s mitzvah campaign of promoting the mezuzah as well-meaning, but theologically foolish–and perhaps even pagan-esque, since it devalues the purpose ...

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Rabbi Ben Tsion Uziel’s Compassionate but Pragmatic Approach to Halacha

There is a tendency among most Jews to think that Halacha by definition must always lean toward conservatism. However, the historical facts do not support this hypothesis.

Modern Halacha examines an interesting question: Should we go out of our way to attract potential conversions?  There are serious circumstances where we should openly encourage conversion whenever possible– specifically when we have an intermarried couple. There is every valid Halachic reason to go out of our way to welcome the non-Jewish spouse and ...

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Did Maimonides convert to Islam during his youth?

Here’s the background information that should help clarify our original question.

Maimonides’ famous Iggerot Hashmad (“A  Letter Concerning Apostasy”) was written in the year 1160 during a time when the Almohades Muslims [1] forced people everywhere to recite the Muslim Creed. Failure to comply meant execution.

One Moroccan rabbinical scholar in Fez exclaimed that any Jew who publicly uttered the Muslim confession–-regardless whether they in truth practiced Judaism incognito—could no longer be considered a Jew. ...

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Maimonides’ Exposition on the Road Less Traveled

Commenting on the verse, “Now, when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the Philistines’ land, though this was the nearest; for he thought, should the people see that they would have to fight, they might change their minds and return to Egypt” (Exod. 13:17).

This passage has always bothered me. The rational given by the biblical narrator  is irrelevant. Had God led the Israelites directly to the Promised Land, there would never have been ...

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