The restless rabbinic spirit

An illustration by Pepe Fainberg
(photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
RABBI DR. NATAN Cardozo is a restless soul. And this is as it should be. He is the anti-Marx rabbi, believing that religion is not an opiate but something “meant to disturb.” His book, “Jewish Law as Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage, ” does precisely that: It disturbs and provokes, designed to shake Jews out of their passivity and awaken them to the wonders and awe of everyday living. For Cardozo halakha is not a restraint on human freedom imposed by an authority from above, but “a genuine response to the ultimate questions of existence.”
Trained for many years at England’s H aredi Gateshead Yeshiva, Cardozo is an unconventional Orthodox scholar , whom former UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks regards as “one of the most thoughtful voices in contemporary Orthodoxy, a man of faith and wide intellectual horizons who is unafraid to confront the challenges of the age.” Cardozo directs David Cardozo Academy in Jerusalem, which is dedicated to confronting the modern crises of religion and Jewish identity.
Cardozo has lots of problems – the kind that Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah had: He is filled with prophetic indignation at the state of religious life, the complacency of today’s rabbis, and the abuse of established religion. He is bursting with thoughtful anxiety over our current misguided use of God’s Torah and halakha. His book expresses his pain over the gap between how Jews actually live and what God wants us to be.

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