Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What is the cause of sin

"Man is surely aware of many needs, but the needs he is aware of are not always his own. At the very root of this failure to recognize one's truly worthwhile needs lies man's ability to misunderstand and misidentify himself, i.e., to lose himself. Quite often man loses himself by identifying himself with the wrong image. Because of this misidentification, man adopts the wrong table of needs which he feels he must gratify. Man responds quickly to the pressure of certain needs, not knowing whose needs he is out to gratify. At this juncture, sin is born. What is the cause of sin, if not the diabolical habit of man to be mistaken about his own self?"

R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, "Redemption, Prayer, Talmud Torah"

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rabbi Leo Jung

"Rabbi Leo Jung (June 20, 1892 in Uherský BrodMoravia – December 19, 1987 in New York CityUnited States) was one of the major architects of American Orthodox Judaism.

"His father, Rabbi Dr. Meir Tzvi Jung held rabbinic post in Mannheim then was elected Rabbi of Uherský Brod in 1890. Rabbi Meir Tzvi Jung believed in the Torah im Derekh Eretz (Torah combined with worldly activity) philosophy of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. Later he moved to London. Rabbi Leo Jung's father founded schools in Uherský Brod, Cracow and London, where both religious and secular learning took place. In London, Rabbi Meir Tzvi Jung was a leader in Agudat Yisrael, and the Sinai Movement. The Sinai Movement was a movement in which young men would meet for the purpose of studying Talmud and socializing. At his death in June 1921, Rabbi Jung was the Chief Minister of the Federation of Synagogues in England, an appointment he had held since 1912."


Audio of Rabbi Jung

"...he was on the Executive Committee of the Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch Society, whose goal was to translate works by German Orthodox thinkers into English. These works became the core of the Feldheim publishing house."

Video at 3:50

Thursday, June 29, 2017

equally worthy

"The foremost distinguishing characteristic bestowed upon
man is his Divine image, his tzelem Elohim, which denotes
particular qualitative endowments, such as a moral sense, free
will, and intellect. Man partakes of these attributes within
human limitations, while God's representation of these qualities
is absolute. Maimonides embodied man's likeness to God pri-
marily in terms of his intellect (Guide 1: 1). This Divine gift was
given to both men and women. "And God created man with His
image. In the image of God, He created him; male and female
He created them" (Gen. 1:27).7 In their spiritual natures, they
were equally worthy."

R. Joseph Soloveitchik
(Man of Faith in the Modern World, p. 84).

“The Chumash in Bereishis says that when God created man בצלם אלקים ברא אתם . Man and woman were created in the Image of God. Equality was taken for granted. If two personae were created in the image of God, you cannot say one is superior to the other.” (The Rav Thinking Aloud on the Parsha, Sefer Bamidbar, pp. 142-3)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

It deifies no man

The Torah does not seek to portray our great men as perfectly ideal figures; it deifies no man. It says of no one: “Here you have the ideal; in this man the Divine assumes human form!” It does not set before us the life of any one person as the model from which we might learn what is good and right, what we must do and what we must refrain from doing. When the Torah wishes to put before us a model to emulate, it does not present a man, who is born of dust. Rather, God presents Himself as the model, saying: “Look upon Me! Emulate Me! Walk in My ways!” We are never to say: “This must be good and right, because so-and-so did it.” The Torah is not an “anthology of good deeds.” It relates events not because they are necessarily worthy of emulation, but because they took place. The Torah does not hide from us the faults, errors, and weaknesses of our great men, and this is precisely what gives its stories credibility. The knowledge given us of their faults and weaknesses does not detract from the stature of our great men; on the contrary, it adds to their stature and makes their life stories even more instructive. Had they been portrayed to us as shining models of perfection, flawless and unblemished, we would have assumed that they had been endowed with a higher nature, not given to us to attain. Had they been portrayed free of passions and inner conflicts, their virtues would have seemed to us as merely the consequence of their loftier nature, not acquired by personal merit, and certainly no model we could ever hope to emulate.

Rav S. R. Hirsch (Bereishis 12: 10-13)