Four Liberating Strategies

Four Liberating Strategies By Bezalel Naor In the non-Jewish world, the second of the Five Books of Moses is referred to as “Exodus.” Scholars tell us that this name derived once upon a time from Jewish sages; the Hebrew “Yetsi’at Mitsrayim” was translated into Greek: Exodus. The medieval Spanish commentator Nahmanides does in fact refer […]

Nahmanides’ Theological Boldness

Israel’s Reaffirmation of Vows If one reads the narrative of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai purely through the Biblical lens, unaided by Rabbinic commentary, the acceptance of the Torah on the part of Israel appears to be totally volitional. The shorter version of Israel’s formal acceptance reads: “The entire people responded together […]

“The Jackals” and “The Lion”: Animal Fables of Kafka and Rav Kook

In 1917, Franz Kafka (1883-1924), a surrealist writer living in Prague, published in Martin Buber’s Zionist journal, Der Jude, a short story entitled “Jackals and Arabs.” The plot of the story is rather simple; the meaning—like that of most of Kafka’s works—continues to mystify readers to this day. A European gentleman camped in the desert […]

Rav Kook and Rav Shlomo Elyashev (“Leshem”) (1841-1926)

Rav Kook and Rav Shlomo Elyashev (“Leshem”) (1841-1926) The Hebrew word “Kabbalah” means literally “receiving” or “reception.” Implicit is the idea that authentic Jewish mysticism is a received tradition, into which one  must be initiated by a bona fide master. Rav Kook’s rebbe in Kabbalah was none other than Rabbi Shelomo Ben Hayim Haikel Elyashev […]

The Two Faces of Messianism

(Adapted by the Author from “Du-Partsufin shel ha-meshihiyut,” which first appeared in Bezalel Naor, Avirin [Jerusalem, 5740/1980], pp. 16-24) Copyright © 2013 by Bezalel Naor   In Messiah Son of Joseph is revealed the characteristic of Israel’s nationalism per se. However the ultimate goal is not the isolation of nationalism, but rather the longing to […]

Shavu’ot 5773

Forced to Be Free By Bezalel Naor   The Talmud (Shabbat 88a) takes literally the verse in Exodus 19:17: “They stood beneath the mountain.” Said Rabbi Abdimi bar Hama: This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, held the mountain over them as a vat, saying to them, “If you accept the Torah, good; […]

Correspondence of Thinkers Regarding the Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Image above: “Rabbi Israel ben Shabtai, Maggid of Kozienice (d. 1814).”   An Exchange Concerning the Jewish-Christian Dialogue   Daniel, I just came across an amazing quote from Rabbi Israel ben Shabtai Hapstein, known as the Maggid of Kozienice (Yiddish, Kozhnits) (c.1733-1814). Martin Buber (1878-1965), who popularized the legends and teachings of the various Hasidic […]