Monday, August 22, 2005

The Soul of Judaism?

Read this article (click on the heading of this post). It's an Op-Ed piece from today's Jerusalem Post online edition. In it the author, Nathan Lopes Cardozo, dean of the David Cardozo Academy in Jerusalem, argues that in Israel today there is a deep void in the fabric of Israeli society, which presents itself as a lack of sprituality, when in fact, according to Cardozo, there is a lack of Menchlichkeit, or manners, and proper treatment of one's fellow Jew. He goes further than I would (he states that there are too many Yeshivot, for example), but he makes some very good points about the direction in which Israel is headed.

But isn't all of this true here as well? Isn't it true everywhere? Is it just Israelis who are reaching for some sense of spirituality, something that is intangible, yet Hollywood makes us think is easy to obtain by following their simple steps toward self-fulfillment? In his book, Twersky on Spirituality, Rabbi Abraham J. Twersky, M.D., defines sprituality as humanity - the state of being a person. Thinking, feeling, working, having a goal. Animals lack the ability to deny their own physical needs, hence they are not free to choose. Man, who can supress his desires based on morals or ethics, without any fear of retribution or punishment, is uniquely free, and this is what makes him human. All things that are uniquely human make up the human spirit, and therefore humanity is spirituality.

All mankind looks for some form of personal fulfillment, and, in doing so, we tend to trample on one other's humanity/spirituality (yes, sometimes inadvertently). What we need to focus on is not so much our own selfish needs, like animals, for giving in to our desires is the opposite of spirituality. We need to focus on the needs of our society as a whole, by ensuring that we take care of each other's needs one at a time.


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