If the Social Orthodox Had Been in Egypt, Would They Have Been Redeemed?

by R. Gidon Rothstein Jay Lefkowitz‘s vivid description of Social Orthodoxy in Commentary is both beautiful and troubling. On the one hand, he highlights a remarkable aspect of the Modern Orthodox community. However, his unabashed theological admissions demand changes in how we make communal decisions. (Disclosure: I have met him socially but I doubt either of us would recognize the ...

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How to Have Good Children

One of the recurring foci of Ran’s Derashot is the relationship between the natural and supernatural worlds. In this second part of the fifth Drasha, he points to the heart as the crucial center of the body. It links our intellects and more physical sides, playing a role in our natural and supernatural involvements. As such, what we do with ...

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Why Is Humanity Here? How Do We Know?

One of the central questions we’ve been working to answer is Ran’s overall goal in these Drashot. This Drasha gives us a big clue, because Ran repeats discussions he’s already shared. I suggest he was trying to draw his listeners/readers in a surprising, perhaps challenging direction. By giving us what we are already used to, he can slip in another ...

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When May We Tamper with the World?

Dichotomies are tidy and self-contained, but the world isn’t. Ran has been showing us some differences between when Hashem intervenes in the world and when Hashem leaves it to the stars or its natural forces. As the Derasha continues, he’s going to point to other elements that complicate the picture. An Angel Somewhere Between Nature and Hashem The original time ...

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Divine and Natural, Their Differing Roles

Living in Hashem’s Presence is dangerous but beneficial, which is why He gave us a powerful tool for survival. Last time, Ran reminded us that Hashem’s direct guidance could lead to our being wiped out. At the same time, only Hashem can decide to forgive our transgressions and refrain from administering punishment. That would mean that if Moshe could guarantee ...

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Religious Red Lines as the Key to Greater Tolerance

Referencing a red line is a no-no in certain Jewish circles today but it should be taken as the sign of tolerance it really is. To say that something or someone has stepped over a line is to invite being called exclusionary, being accused of heresy-hunting, tsitsit-checking, being marked as someone who looks to kick others out. As someone who’s ...

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Hashem’s Direct and Indirect Influence

Derashot haRan, I’ve been suggesting in these columns, is Ran’s sustained attempt to analyze the balance between the world following its course and Hashem actively intervening. This fourth Derasha is going to grapple with those issues even more explicitly than the previous ones. In this series * 1: Drasha 1: Communities, Combination and Creation * 2: Drasha 1: What Science ...

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Embracing the Metaphysics in the First Mitzvot of the Torah

Seeing is believing but the most powerful forces are often unseen, hidden. The metaphysical, Ran teaches, is more powerful than the physical. In the last piece of the third Drasha , Ran discusses the mitzvot Moshe and Aharon were taught in Parashat haChodesh (Shemot 12). In line with themes we’ve seen before and will again, Ran portrays these as emblematic ...

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Aharon and the Rewards of Sincere Humility

There is no perfect leader. Leadership is not a single skill but a collection of talents. Some leaders have the ability to best guide the community in one set of circumstances while others are more capable in different times. The difficulty is knowing when a perfect leader is simply unfit for the occasion. In this series * 1: Drasha 1: ...

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