FOR THE LOVE OF ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE: Essays and Studies on Israel, Jews and Judaism

FOR THE LOVE OF ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE: Essays and Studies on Israel, Jews and Judaism
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    FOR THE LOVE OF ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE: Essays and Studies on Israel, Jews and Judaism

    by Nathan Lopes Cardozo

    Hardcover, 327 pages
    Urim Publications, 2008 
    ISBN: 978-965-524-010-8

    The Land of Israel and the Jewish people are bound together in mysterious ways that go beyond convention. Here is a nation that has "too much history and too little geography," as Sir Isaiah Berlin said. Yet even in their exile, the Jews never truly left the land of their birth. Rather, they lifted it from its native soil and transformed it into a portable homeland, taking it with them to all corners of the earth. Only in 1948 after nearly two thousand years did the Jewish people return to its original home. How is it that contrary to all the laws of history, the Jewish people outlived so many powerful empires? How was this tiny nation able to make an unprecedented contribution to the wellbeing of all of humankind? Why did the Jewish people become a source of endless irritation to those who opposed its ethical teachings? Finally, how can the State of Israel rediscover its Jewish identity as the source of its greatest blessing and hope? Nathan Lopes Cardozo addresses these and other questions throughout this remarkable collection of essays.

    About the Author:
    Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a world-renowned thinker, lecturer and ambassador for Judaism and the Jewish people. He is known for his original insights into how Judaism can rejuvenate itself, showing new paths to its authentic expression. Rabbi Lopes Cardozo's writings are read by laymen, members of the clergy and academicians throughout the Jewish and non-Jewish world. He is a sought-after lecturer on Judaism and Israel at numerous institutions of higher academic learning, including Jewish study programs at leading universities, religious academies and rabbinical colleges. He is also the founder and Dean of the David Cardozo Academy, the Aron and Betsy Spijer Institute (also called the Beth Midrash of Avraham Avinu), which is dedicated to recapturing the ideological foundations of Judaism. The Institute is a think tank where rabbis, educators and professors under Rabbi Cardozo's guidance try to lay the foundations of a new approach to Judaism based on the classical sources. It is also dedicated to educating a new generation of rabbis, teachers and Jewish thinkers based on this philosophy.

    The author of many books on Judaism, Rabbi Lopes Cardozo writes and distributes via e-mail a weekly column, "Thoughts to Ponder," which also appears on his website, Educated in Amsterdam, he received his rabbinical degree from Gateshead Talmudical College, studied at Yeshivat Mir in Jerusalem, and holds a doctorate in philosophy. Rabbi Cardozo is a distinguished member of the Portuguese and Spanish Jewish community and lives with his wife, children and grandchildren in Jerusalem.

    Praise for For the Love of Israel and the Jewish People:
    "When the international community formally acknowledged the rights of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland after the First World War, it was implicitly understood that this connection emanated from nearly 3,000 years of Jewish law and tradition. Rabbi Cardozo eloquently reminds his readers of that very fundamental truth in a period when many in the world have unfortunately forgotten it."
    - Ambassador Dore Gold, formerly Israel's ambassador to the United Nations

    "He possesses the talent to address the major issues confronting our people with eloquence, sophistication and originality."
    - Rabbi Professor Norman Lamm, Chancellor of Yeshiva University

    "One of the most thoughtful voices... Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a man of deep faith and wide intellectual horizons... attuned to the music of eternity."
    - Rabbi Professor Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Britain and the Commonwealth

    "Celebrating Israel. 
    Perhaps one of the most under-appreciated Jewish theologians of our time is Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo of Jerusalem. I say this because despite the eloquence and timeliness of his message, found in over half a dozen books, Cardozo is rarely cited in religious or political circles. That is unfortunate for all of us and this review is an attempt to rectify that.

    In his latest book of essays, lectures and studies entitled For The Love of Israel and the Jewish People, issued by Urim Publishers in honor of Israel's 60th birthday, Cardozo sets out to impart a message of hope and confidence in our faith and people.

    Cardozo does not hesitate for one moment to deal with topics that would challenge others. Love for the land of Israel is addressed in seven detailed essays in a sharp and unapologetic manner. Absent is the mindless jargon common among others in the nationalist camp. The style is that of a teacher and rabbi instructing his readers to appreciate the history and religious value to our claim on Eretz Yisrael. There is a pathos that flows through his writing, laced with a clear romance for the land by one whose love for it is based upon the divine commitment to its habitation. No apologetics are forthcoming.

    The essays pertaining to Israeli society, 14 in all, go to the heart of our concerns as to the practical issues and personalities that face our people, daily.

    From a religious perspective, Cardozo deals with Gush Katif, disengagement, Jewish education, Amona, religious heresy, faith and the crisis facing organized Zionismin, in sharp terms, giving his opinions on each in language that is appreciated for its clarity in tone and style. This clarity persists throughout, even when I find myself, at times, in disagreement with the author's views.

    Anti-Semitism, from Amalek to the Holocaust, is dealt with in five essays, lacking the empty rhetoric used so often at Holocaust gatherings. Reflecting his deep grounding in world history, Cardozo cites such intellectual luminaries as Thomas Cahill, Leo Tolstoy, Roy Eckhardt, Paul Johnson, Matthew Arnold and Will Herberg, in his effort at pointing to the universal significance of the Holocaust and of its appreciation by many non-Jews as a uniquely Jewish tragedy. The lessons to be learned from it are gleaned from our tradition, reflecting our deep faith in G-d and our confidence in our future survival.

    Jewish tradition is highlighted in six essays, touching upon the religious significance of the Tsunami, Purim and the war in Iraq, the deeper meaning of the splitting of the Red Sea and the mystery of the observance of the second day of Yom Tov.

    The studies section features a long essay on the importance of Jean Paul Satre and his fight against bigotry, and an interesting study on the "mortal danger" in the counting of Jews.

    The book concludes with a 13 page text of a lecture given on July 11, 2001, entitled "Jewish Tradition and the Intifada." It is as fresh and relevant today as it was then. Much can be gained by reading and studying Cardozo's scholarship on this continuing crisis.

    Please note that each piece is dated, and that this date should be kept in mind when studying each work.

    Rabbi Dr. Cardozo was educated in Amsterdam, received his semicha from Gateshead Yeshiva and learned at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Today, he lives in Jerusalem with his family and is founder and dean of the David Cardozo Academy.

    If there is but one book you wish to choose to read about Israel this year, this is the one. Each essay is self contained and can be read in one to two sittings, an ideal situation for those short on time. Cardozo has the unique talent of being able to make a complex concept easily understood. He is an excellent teacher, thinker and darshan, whose talent will be better appreciated in the years to come." 
    - Alan Jay Gerber, The Jewish Star

    "Its author, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, lives in Jerusalem. He runs an academy and a think tank where, according to the book's jacket, "rabbis, educators and professors under Rabbi Cardozo's guidance try to lay the foundations of a new approach to Judaism based on classical sources."
    It is clear from even a quick perusal that Cardozo is a religious Zionist. "All efforts to make Israel into a purely secular state will ultimately lead to its destruction," he writes. "In no way do we advocate an Israeli theocracy, but without a deep commitment to Judaism, the State of Israel will not be able to survive."...However, Cardozo writes well and with passion; so anybody who wants to learn about religious Zionism will find For the Love of Israel and the Jewish People a useful introduction to the subject." 
    - Leon Cohen, Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

    "These introductory lines capture the book's essence: "The land of Israel and the Jewish people are bound together in mysterious ways -- difficult to grasp. The relationship between them goes beyond the conventional..." The author then illustrates that members of Israel's haredi world will likely number one million by the year 2020, poised to dramatically influence Israel's future. Rabbi Dr. Cardozo points out the haredim are unprepared for that eventuality, particularly in terms of earning income. He fears that their growing numbers on welfare can collapse Israel's economy and government and blames haredi rabbis and yeshivot for failing to make halachically valid and necessary educational system changes.
    The importance of the Modern Orthodox world within Israel and the rapid departure of assimilated secular Israelis are part of a vitally relevant mix influencing this eventuality for better and for worse.
    But the he sees light at the end of the tunnel.
    A collection of essays, studies and lectures, For the Love of Israel and the Jewish People begins with an open letter to President Shimon Peres. It addresses Jews as moral heirs of Sinai, the option to correct the misguided removal of Jewish identity from Israeli public education that's wrecking Israeli society, and the national need for a Jewish identity.

    Marriage; why Israel and her Jews are hated in The Hague; pain; and incessant wars are among the topics of subsequent chapters. Two overpowering lessons in this book are that the Jews have risen above every form of strife known to the world -- and non-Jews resent our moral tenacity. We transform the world rather than accept its limitations. We "... live for that which is greater than ourselves." Our ethics, embodied in the Ten Commandments, offend ethically challenged gentile nations.

    Integrity is our mandate, not theirs. And our enemies are additionally enraged to realize that we outlive them.

    Some Holy Land residents celebrated Israel's 60th Independence Day by singing Psalm 126 to the tune of Hatikvah. Poignant, the act was consistent with the lessons of the book's chapter, There is No Mashiach without a Song: King Chizkiyahu could have changed history, and his son, for the better, with songs of praise. Jewish sages teach, "No one can be Mashiach unless he is willing and able to sing." Maimonides' letter, Kovetz Teshuvos HaRambam VeIggerotav, included in the essay, explains: "Music raises the spoken word to a level that touches prophecy -- the entrance to joy."

    Rabbi Cardozo's essay, "Jewish Tradition and the Intifada" is equally soul-stirring. " ... we were once strong-minded- capable of standing up against the largest empires in the world, today we seem confused. We have exchanged self-confidence for limited hysteria... we don't know where to turn and how to start finding answers... As religious people... we're used to consulting Biblical and Talmudic sources... and drawing conclusions." "However... nothing is more dangerous than claiming to have definite insights into the mind of God... arrogance and impudence of the first order... we are left with only one option... study these texts... it's our moral obligation to learn those matters that increase our moral consciousness without stating that they are... authentic interpretation."
    The author's classic lessons, from here until the book's last page, will make you weep with shame, teshuvah and desperate prayer for yeshuah.
    Grow as Jews. Read this book. Its wisdom will be inscribed upon your heart and soul. And it might help us to save Israel." 
    -Yocheved Golani, The Jewish Press

    "Poetry, passion, pain and thinking out of the box - these are the hallmarks of Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo's previous 10 books and a weekly Internet column (
    His latest work, For the Love of Israel and the Jewish People, is no exception and is perhaps the most exciting and inspirational of all his books so far. The author writes enthusiastically of the need to improve Jewish education and the religious and lay leadership in Israel. He agonizes over our tragedies. He glories over our triumphs.

    Among the chapter titles are "Ilan Ramon: A Jewish Astronaut"; "Jewish Nobel-ness" (about Prof. Aumann); "Kreplach and Bissli: Revelation of a Language"; "The Failure of the Religious Parties"; "It Is Time To Go to the Synagogue"; Israel Is Gush Katif"; "The Tragedy of Arnona"; "Rembrandt; the Holocaust and the Making of an Enemy"; and "There Is No Mashiach without Song."
    Nothing if not eclectic!
    According to Cardozo, the religious Jew should not relate to the secular Jew in a superior way with the intention to convert him or her to a religious life. The author writes that "constant emphasis is placed on the need to cure the secular Jew's mistaken lifestyle. There is a need to celebrate the mitzvot that secular Jews have been observing, not their failure to observe others. Who will deny that secular Jews have no sense of mystery, forgiveness, beauty and gentleness? How many of them do not have inner faith that God cares or shows contempt for fraud or double standards?"

    Religious Jews must also show the sensitivity of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to non-Jews. After the tsunami, he says, the chief rabbis should have organized special prayers in the synagogues and perhaps a day of fasting. The yeshivot should have organized special study sessions dedicated to the victims. "Religious Jewry cannot permit itself the slightest impression of indifference even when it concerns those who have little in common with us and are no lovers of Israel. Instead of trying to discover textual hints for this disaster in biblical or Kabbalistic texts (which are mostly fanciful speculation and wishful thinking), religious Jewry should act responsibly, showing that they have not forgotten their duty toward all humankind."

    Cardozo seeks a different kind of Jewish education which, in his opinion, is "in need of radical repair. We are living in a time when the Jewish religious imagination seems to be exhausted. Religious education must be like a work of art that is capable of introducing us to emotions that we have never felt before. It is boring unless we are surprised by it. Every thought is also a prison if it does not invoke an outburst of amazement within us," he writes. In a different essay he concludes that "There is a need for spiritual audacity, educational guts and defiance."

    Another theme in the book is the lack of Jewish identity and pride among Israelis. In his letter to President Shimon Peres published in The Jerusalem Post, he says he fears that many young people will eventually leave Israel because of their severe identity crisis. Human beings can starve from lack of identity as much as they can starve from lack of food. Without Jewish meaning, living on a "borrowed identity," we will be unable to improve the country and the world. "We cannot predicate our survival on remaining a culture, a constellation of fading memories or some kind of nostalgia, or even on the Israeli army or Zionism."

    The book concludes with some in-depth studies, including one that compares the visual emphasis of Western civilization ("seeing is believing") with the stress in Judaism on hearing ("the Jewish people are not the people of the book but the people of the ear").

    Another study promotes Cardozo's fervent desire for religious Jews to devote more time to the commandments between human beings. "There is no point in suggesting stringencies in the laws of Shabbat and kashrut if they are not accompanied by similar, if not stricter, stringencies in our relationships with our fellow human beings. There should be a national campaign to promote this idea, using every type of media. There could be billboard advertisements calling on readers to be more patient with each other, greet passers-by with a smile, show courtesy and make it a matter of honor and pride to be a real mensch."

    The 54 essays, each one about three pages long, are culled from his previous writings. There is some repetition of themes, but this is a positive feature to emphasize his searing pleas for improvement in so many areas.

    The author dedicates his book to the missing soldiers and has written a beautiful prayer for the Jewish soldier in the Israeli army.

    Cardozo -- Amsterdam born, Yeshivat Mir and Gateshead educated (earning a PhD on the way), Jerusalem-based global lecturer and founder and dean of an academy where rabbis and educators try to lay the foundations of a new Judaism based on classical sources -- has two options: to become a Don Quixote tilting at windmills or a successful revolutionary."  
    - Reuven Ben-Dov, Jerusalem Post

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