The Dilemma of Individual Choice

The Dilemma of Individual Choice

I grew up in the Reform movement, which holds that Jewish "law" is not binding. Instead, it encourages every Reform Jew to become very knowledgable about Jewish traditions and then to decide for him/herself which of them to follow. This philosophy also fits very well with American conceptions of liberty and individualism which I have studied for decades as both a lawyer and historian.  Yet, as a rabbi vitally concerned with the continuity of the Jewish people and its traditions, I question whether any community can thrive, or even survive with shared values, common rituals, and standards of proper behavior, if every member simply chooses what he or she will do. 

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Feb 20

Sh'mot: A "Shameful and Foolish" Policy?

Sh'mot: A "Shameful and Foolish" Policy?
D’var Torah; Shabbat Sh’mot Rabbi Art Levine, Ph.D., J.D.   January 13-14, 2012 – 18 Tevet 5772 A “Shameful and Foolish” Policy? This week the world’s news media has reported the assassination of another Iranian nuclear scientist. Many... Continue Reading »

Va'era: Torah, Shabbat, and the "Purpose-Drive Life"

Va'era: Torah, Shabbat, and the "Purpose-Drive Life"
D'var Torah; Shabbat Va-era Rabbi Art Levine, Ph.D., J.D. January 20-21, 2012 – 26 Tevet 5772 Torah, Shabbat, and the "Purpose-Driven Life" Do you lead a "purpose-driven life?" If that phrase sounds familiar, it may bring to mind the title of a... Continue Reading »
Feb 20

Beshalach: Torah's Best Food? Miracle Whip

Beshalach: Torah's Best Food? Miracle Whip
D’var Torah; Shabbat Beshalach Rabbi Art Levine, Ph.D., J.D. February 3-4, 2012 – 10 Shevat 5772 Torah’s Best Food? Miracle Whip “Man does not live on bread alone,” says Deuteronomy 8:3. And indeed, the Torah is replete with other food ref... Continue Reading »
Feb 20

Yitro: Apples, I-G-d, and J-Tablets

Yitro: Apples, I-G-d, and J-Tablets
D’var Torah: Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23) By Rabbi Art Levine, Ph.D., J.D.   February 10, 2012 Apples, I-G-d, and J-Tablets In the beginning, the Designer created apples. Then He/She created beings with artificial intelligence, and t... Continue Reading »
Feb 20

Ethics (Mussar) Workshop Begins March 3rd!

Ethics (Mussar) Workshop Begins March 3rd!
Everyday Holiness Workshop Introduction:  The iconic modern Jewish philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: “Religion is not a feeling for something that is, but an answer to the One who is asking us to live in a certain way. It is in its ver... Continue Reading »

Siddur/Jewish Prayer Class Begins February 25th!

Siddur/Jewish Prayer Class Begins February 25th!
Jewish Education Course: Opening the Jewish Treasure Chest: The Siddur. On alternate Shabbat afternoons starting February 25th at my home, 1:30-3:00 pm. Please RSVP via email or phone! Introduction: It might be said that whereas the Torah is J... Continue Reading »

Mishpatim: "Neither a borrower nor a ..."

Mishpatim: "Neither a borrower nor a ..."
D'var Torah: Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1-24:18) Rabbi Art Levine, Ph.D., J.D.   February 17-18, 2012 / 25 Shevat 5772 "Neither a borrower nor a …" Most Americans over a "certain age" can instantly complete the above adage with the words, "lender... Continue Reading »
Feb 20

From the Jewish heritage, I have derived my world outlook, a ...

From the Jewish heritage, I have derived my world outlook, a God-centered interpretation of reality in the light of which man the individual is clothed with dignity, and the career of humanity with cosmic meaning and hope; a humane morality, elevated in its aspirations yet sensibly realistic; a system of rituals which interpenetrates my daily routines and invests them with poetry and intimations of the divine. -- Milton Steinberg 

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Feb 18
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He who guards his mouth preserves his life
Proverbs 13:3