Of all the wisdom and political theory from the great Thomas Paine that has endured perhaps some of his wisest words were those he imparted on the eve of the American revolution: “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must… undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” (The American Crisis, Number IV: Philadelphia, September 12 ). Paine’s words are both thoughtful and inspiring and serve as a reminder that we must constantly defend and enhance our justice system in America to support freedom.
The Torah explains that all of us were present to accept the Law at Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 29:14). How can this be – if I was not physically present, let alone born, in what way was I present? And, barring a satisfying answer to that question, how can I be bound by a covenant that I didn’t make?
Jewish law is deeply concerned about and committed to healthcare being a matter of collective responsibility. The American Jewish community is vocal in support of healthcare reform, and and over the past few years there has been great progress in ensuring that the most vulnerable are able to get the healthcare they need. Yet the ultimate success or failure of Obamacare may be up to millenials, many of whom are relucant to participate.
Judaism is mostly a rationalist tradition that embraces free will, critical thinking, and the importance of the intellect. Most endeavors that mandate irrational and overly chancy behavior are forbidden by the Jewish tradition. Gambling is one of the prevalent modern activities that may make for fun sport in moderation, but when treated as a primary source of income it borders on the irrational.
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz |
Jewish Week Online Columnist |
In recent years, debates about the right to privacy have emerged stronger than ever. Especially in light of last week’s events, there are political issues to explore, but we all also have our own introspective work to do to grow in our own sense of modesty (tzniut).
We live in a complex world. At its best, religion makes reality more complicated rather than more simple to understand. It reminds us how noble ideas are, how small we are, how little we understand, and how complex the human condition and the world are. We can learn about the interconnected complex nature of our world from an insight in Kabbalah.