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Basic Tenets of Jewish Philosophy: Faith in the Sages

Rabbi Akiva - from  Mantua Haggadah

One of the forty-eight traits by which the Torah is acquired is “faith in the sages” [Avot 6:6]. This is usually taken to mean that one of our basic elements of faith is that the Jewish sages do not make mistakes. But it is eminently clear that this interpretation cannot be right, for there is no person on earth who ... Read More »

Basic Tenets of Jewish Philosophy: The Soul

Aristotle (Source: Wikipedia)

Just what is the soul of man? There have been many attempts to define it. There are some who try to constrict it into the tiny realm of biomolecules, what is called the “animal soul,” so that when a person dies his soul also disappears. Some even view it as an illusion, leading to the conclusion that man has no ... Read More »

Basic Tenets of Jewish Philosophy: Real Freedom

1608-deborah

What do we mean when we say that all men are free? These words have a legal connotation which has found its way into the Bill of Rights, stating that all men are free as long as their actions do not impinge on the freedom of another person. The exact boundary between conflicting freedoms will be set by specific laws. ... Read More »

Basic Tenets of Jewish Philosophy: The Soul of a Gentile

Man lifting hands in worship during sunset.

It is often said that a Gentile has no soul. However, this statement is rooted in a misunderstanding of the sources which discuss the matter. The most widely publicized source is the Tanya, Chapters 1 and 2: “Every man from Israel has two souls. One soul is related to the mystical shell… and this is the source of all evil ... Read More »

Basic Tenets of Jewish Philosophy: Science and Religion

Hubble Telescope image of new galaxies

Those who have discussed religion and science were mainly interested in two aspects of this matter: the age of the world and the origins of life. A common assumption, which we will use in spite of its superficial character, is that science has established that the world is about 16 billion years old and that man developed from an ape-like ... Read More »

Basic Tenets of Jewish Philosophy: Philosophy and Prophecy

From the Analects of Confucius - Source wikimedia

  It is true that the nation-state which the Chashmona’im established was destroyed long ago, and this is very likely the reason that “Megillat Ta’anit” was removed from the holy books, but the holiday of Chanukah has not been cancelled. The inner spiritual reason for this, which appears in the statement in the Talmud that the basis of the holiday ... Read More »

Basic Tenets of Jewish Philosophy: Let the Temple be Rebuilt

Model of the Second Temple

There has been much discussion about the way the Temple will be rebuilt – let it come quickly, in our time. At first glance the approaches appear to be diametrically opposed to each other, with no possible way to reconcile them. However, let us see if this is really true. We start by listing various approaches to this question. (1) ... Read More »

Basic Tenets of Jewish Philosophy: What is the Purpose of Time and Space?

2

Philosophers and scientists have expended large efforts on the question of defining the concepts of time and space. This matter has concerned many people, because after all time and space define the limits of man’s world. Some of the philosophers toyed with the idea of whether time and space are subjective (Kant) or objective (Descartes), or perhaps an illusion (Berkeley). ... Read More »

Basic Tenets of Jewish Philosophy: What is Redemption?

Scottish landscape from pixabay.com

In the first chapter of his book “Netzach Yisrael” the Maharal of Prague defines the concept of redemption based on his view of the exile. By doing this he makes use of a common theme in his way of looking at things: The Unity of Opposites. An idea can often best be defined by understanding its opposite. Thus, black is ... Read More »