The call of the shofar

The call of the shofar
HBH”C Ploni ben Nistar

A beautiful post that captures the essence of why we blow the Shofar at this season.

I have heard a number of shiurim and D’varim about this topic, but this one stands near the top.

Happy Elul. May your days be filled with contemplation, wonder, and a love of Hashem.

The Blemishes of Orthodoxy

“Either/Orthodoxy
Lawrence Grossman
Jewish Ideas Daily
May 15, 2012

Lawrence Grossman of the American Jewish Committee sparks an thoughtful debate about the relevance of Orthodox Judaism when even some of its adherants are perplexed.

For his part, Grossman mounts a pithy assault on one book that argues against the divine inspiration of Torah, and another that defends Orthodoxy yet tries to frame Orthodoxy in the cast of modern spirituality.

In the end, Grossman poses a question: if, in fact, Torah is not from a divine source, and thus the justification for the mitzvot weak, why does Orthodox Judaism remain so “vibrant and successful?”

Read the article, but read it as you would attend a shiur: in other words, read the comments as well. They are in many respects the best part.

Supporting Smarts Everywhere

“Israel to host ‘genius camp’ for aspiring scientists”
Size Doesn’t Matter
August 16, 2012

Israel will be bringing together 250 top young scientists from around Asia at the Asian Science Camp at the end of August.

Great to see Israel building these kinds of relationships, but more important it is great to see that somebody is doing all they can to prevent science in Asia from devolving into nationalist silos.

Chinese Studying Jews

Jewish studies flourish in China
David N. Myers

The Jewish Journal
August 15, 2012

A fascinating look at the growing field of Jewish studies in China, and the author’s experience lecturing at the Glazer Institute of Jewish Studies in the ancient capital city of Kaifeng.

My favorite quote:

The Confucian ideal, parallel to the Jewish precept of “kevod ha-moreh,” is alive and well today. Unlike the consumerist approach to education in the United States, where students demand attractively presented products from their teachers, students in China feel happy to receive the pearls of wisdom that issue from their teachers’ mouths. At times, this leads to a certain passivity in the classroom on the students’ part. But the overall effect, especially for a short-term visitor from America, is wondrous.

Of course, the degree of open Talmudic discourse between teacher and students is missing in China, and that needs to change. Nonetheless, the point about the American “consumerist” approach to education is spot-on.

Speed the Day

Muslims and Jerusalem: Pilgrims’ plodding progress
The Economist
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April 28th, 2012

This Economist article begins with a jolt. By the time you have read the first paragraph, you are starting to believe that the biggest obstacle to Muslims visiting Jerusalem is the Israeli government.

Read on. The truth is that it is Muslim leaders, and particularly Arab Muslim leaders, who prohibit their followers from visiting the Dome of the Rock in Islam’s third-holiest city.

For me, I look forward to the day when Jews and Muslims can greet each other in the streets of our shared Holy City as brothers should – in peace, in love, in laughter.