Perhaps the history of the errors of mankind, all things considered, is more valuable and interesting than that of their discoveries. Truth is uniform and narrow; it constantly exists, and does not seem to require so much an active energy, as a passive aptitude of the soul in order to encounter it. But error is endlessly diversified; it has no reality, but is the pure and simple creation of the mind that invents it. In this field the soul has room enough to expand herself, to display all her boundless faculties, and all her beautiful and interesting extravagancies and absurdities.
– Benjamin Franklin
Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel
Some informative quotes from the morning newspapers, magazines and blogs:
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak: Hamas controls Gaza and is responsible for everything happening there and for all attacks carried out from within the Strip. The goals of this operation are to stop Hamas from attacking our citizens and soldiers,” said Barak.”I would like to remind the world that Israel withdrew from the entire Gaza Strip more than three years ago. We gave a chance for a new reality, and all we’ve seen is Hamas firing rockets and missiles on our citizens and carrying out attacks against Israel,” he noted.(Jerusalem Post, 11/29/08)
Israeli Correspondent Shmuel Rosner: The 2008 Gaza war is the war of the possible And yes, eliminating Hamas’s rule in Gaza is still a (justifiably) desirable final outcome for both Israel, the U.S., and, for that matter, the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority. But this will be a long-term goal–“long term” in the sense that no one yet knows when and if ever it will be achieved. What is relatively clear is that Israel doesn’t aim to achieve it now. The 2008 Gaza war is the war of the possible. When Hamas is ready to strike a deal that will end both the operation and “improve the security reality of” Israel’s “southern residents,” the war will be over. (Rosner’s Domain blog, Jerusalem Post, 11/29/08)
Georgetown University (School of Foreign Service) Professor and Jerusalem’s Shalem Center distinguished fellow Michael Oren, in A Crisis and an Opportunity: Nevertheless, the current round of fighting provides Israel with an opportunity to end its painful chronicle of indecision on Gaza and to embark on a lucid and realizable policy. Can Israel co-exist with a Hamas-dominated Gaza? What are the alternatives (the reintroduction of Egyptian forces, for example) to a renewed Israeli occupation of the area? To what degree will the international community accept a zero-tolerance approach to rocket attacks against Israel, and, more crucially, will the incoming Obama administration publicly endorse that stance? These and other questions might be answered in the coming days if Israel, withstanding the media backlash, dares to ask them. (New Republic, 12/28/08)
Worried about your portfolio, your mortgage, your kid’s college, or your own retirement? Where do we turn? The quote of the week, from Jewish Journal Editor Rob Eshman, hits the nail on the head.
When the money is sucked from a community, what’s left is community. Sure, there is less for now to sustain services it provides, but the bonds of acquaintance, friendship and family abide. When your real estate business skids, when Zell’s L.A. Times defers your buyout payments indefinitely, when a trusted friend loses your millions, there are still friends to go to for support, for commiseration. Stripped of its financial successes, the community Jews have built here is revealed for what it is: bonds among people, not among donors.
This is what our community, Congregation Or Ami, is all about. People supporting people, through good times and bad. Not talking about being a community. But living it. Its about Henaynu, being there for each other. Everyday. All the time.
We learn geology the morning after the earthquake, Emerson wrote. I suppose we’ll learn the richness of community now that much of its wealth is gone.
Henaynu: Check out how we do it
Rabbi Emmanuel Rackman, past Chancellor of New York’s Yeshiva University and President Emeritus of Bar Ilan University in Israel, died in early December, 2008, at age 98. Rabbi Rackman was also the spiritual leader of the prominent Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan and an outspoken advocate of a more inclusive, intellectually open Orthodox Judaism.
What I know about Rabbi Rackman impressed me so. One colleague said that his great strength – particularly in a Jewish world that is increasingly polarized – was his assertion that Jewish pluralism was a Torah-True perspective even for the Orthodox. Here is a quote from a 1966 article:
Perhaps, like Socrates, I corrupt youth, but I teach that Judaism encourages doubt, even as it enjoins faith and commitment. A Jew dare not live with absolute certainty not only because certainty is the hallmark of the fanatic and Judaism abhors fanaticism, but also because doubt is good for the human soul, its humility, and consequently its greater potential ultimately to discover its Creator.
May his memory be for a blessing.