Torah Study includes self-introspection

In Jewish Theology in Our Time, one of the authors, Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels, talks about the idea of a non-dual Judaism, in which we recognize that all is divine.  In his essay, he touches upon the concept of Torah, and develops a meaning of Torah based on the approach of a non-dual Judaism.  He states:

How then do we understand Torah and revelation on such an approach?  On one level, all reality including ourselves becomes Torah, for everything is a revelation of divinity.  As Torah ourselves, we must recognize how our own person reveals the divine presence, and we must study ourselves intensively, going deeper and deeper, from the surface concerns of our p’shat (the literal meaning) to the fathomless nature of our sod (mystical meaning).  Introspection, mindful self-awareness, then becomes talmud torah (study of Torah).  – p. 37

I was highly struck by these words.  It reminded me of conversation I have had with people referring to the human being as a “book.”  We each write our own Torah, in the sense of how our lives are a narrative.  In spending time soul-searching, being mindful of what we have done, we are in a sense fulfilling the idea of studying Torah, as studying is not just about the physical books we can read but it is also about the book we create of our lives.

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FailedMessiah.com: A Violated Will

FailedMessiah.com: A Violated Will.

This was a scary piece for those who live in Israel.  The rabbinic leadership feels it can impose upon the people it’s own even when it doesn’t violate halacha.  The challenge of criteria of death is becoming more about defending our territory than about making sound medical judgment based on the current science.  See RCA Backs Off Stand On Brain Death for Transplants.

Generation F

Generation F.

We under 40 crowd continue to struggle to find a place for ourselves.  It is interesting to note that while the methodologies of have changed regarding how to find one’s niche, the desire to do so has not.  For most of the under 40 crowd, it is not about new age spirituality so much as a means of molding Judaism into our own religion.  There are many who would argue that we should mold ourselves into Judaism instead of molding Judaism to fit ourselves.  Of course, when one looks at the history of religions, we see that religion is a symbiotic relationship, the religion shapes us and we also shape the religion. 

In my own spiritual journey, while I have always aligned myself as Orthodox, it has not prevented me from exploring other spiritual paths that could potentially be incorporated into the ritual and law.  I searched because I felt it would enhance what we already have in our tradition.  This is in line with the points made in the article.  The world of multiculturalism has permitted the soul-searching throughout the world’s religious traditions for means of enhancing one’s own spiritual practice.

Armageddon Fortress May Hold Keys to Biblical History

Armageddon Fortress May Hold Keys to Biblical History.

Israel Finkelstein, one of the preeminent current Israeli archeologists, believes that there is a way in which he can use the various strata of Meggido to date the stories of the Bible as well as provide dating for other historical events around the Mediterranean.  I like the ambition of this project but I hope that it doesn’t further complicate the already difficult idea of whether the bible is historically accurate (at least at some point in history).  I look forward to seeing what will ultimately come from this project.   See this piece on Finkelstein’s dating methods.

US Muslims: a new consumer niche – BusinessWeek

US Muslims: a new consumer niche – BusinessWeek.

This is a very interesting phenomenon considering the anti-Islamic sentiment in much of America.  I would suggest the following.

1.  The ability to develop a halal line of food is probably not too challenging when one considers that much of the laws about whether something is halal are paralleled in the Kosher food business.  This means food is already available to designate as Halal also.

2.  Anti-Islamic sentiment does not mean that Americans will abrogate the freedom of religion of Muslims when it comes to those things which do not impact negatively on society.  In other words, we don’t support mosques being built when seemingly anti-American, but we can support the dietary needs of Muslims.

Researchers Claim to Have Found Kevorim of the Shevatim » Matzav.com – The Online Voice of Torah Jewry

Researchers Claim to Have Found Kevorim of the Shevatim » Matzav.com – The Online Voice of Torah Jewry.

This caught my eyes.  I am not saying I believe it, but still, the sounds interesting.  The methodology does sound a bit weak, considering the earliest evidence is from about 1000 years ago.

More bans by the Israeli Haredi community

As seen on Failed Messiah:

Between this and the banning of a certain blog which has done it’s best to be a kosher blog, I can only say that the Haredi rabbi’s underlings either have nothing better to do or they feel that this is the only area that they can still control.  I mention their underlings because we all know that kol koreh’s come across the rabbis desks all the time and sometimes they are signed without fully knowing the context of the ban.  Either way, the fundamentalism expressed by these groups is getting more extreme and more bizarre by the week.