29 February 2020 - 5 Adar 5780 - ה' אדר ה' אלפים תש"פ
The Rabbis of Today? E-mail

The “Holy Jew” of Pryzucka1 once said: “First there were the prophets, but God looked and saw that the situation was deteriorating and that the prophets no longer were what they used to be. Then prophecy ceased, and the prophets were replaced by the Mishnaic and Talmudic Sages. After some time, they too, began to go downhill, so God brought the Geonim, but after a while that reality also began to worsen. The Geonim were then followed by the great Rabbis, the Rishonim and the Acharonim, but they deteriorated as well. So God brought the Chassidic Rebbes. And now,” said the Holy Jew, “I see that this, too, is about to deteriorate, but I do not know what will come after that.”

This is a statement not only about the changes that take place in reality, but also about the fact that in every generation and every period the Jewish people always has leaders. I do not mean political leadership: there are political leaders with considerable power in their hands, but eventually even the memories of the greatest dictators fade and they become exactly like their myriad subjects who were, in their eyes, like the dust of the earth. What, for instance, is left from Nimrod, the supreme political leader in the days of our Patriarch Abraham? Perhaps a few legends, maybe not even that.

In the final analysis, it is not the political leaders who change the world. Alongside them there are always people who actually mold and form the inner essence, even when they have no official function. Unfortunately, the prophets were not political leaders; rather, they were like bystanders who served as targets for insults.

Even the Prophet Isaiah who was of obvious nobility – as is reflected in his high style, and confirmed by our Sages who say (Tractate Megillah 10b) that he was the king’s cousin – attests (50:6): “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” Yet the prophets are remembered much more than most of the kings, and have also had much greater influence both in their own generation and in the times to come.

In every generation there are leaders. They may be prophets or philosophers, technicians or scientists, inventors of new contraptions or mass media figures. They are the ones who actually set the course of the world. The most basic question is – who is a real leader? And the pertinent question for our generation is: are the rabbis, the contemporary leaders of Jewry, truly the leaders of this generation?

In the past century, the role of the rabbi has undergone a major transformation. The reasons for this are numerous, some of which are economic. However, the fact is that today, the rabbi’s position as a consultant on Halachic matters is not very relevant. How many people actually turn to rabbis with questions about kashrut2?

Today rabbis are being asked to solve totally different problems: husband-wife or parent-child relationships, and sometimes also faith issues. As such, the rabbi, who is not a trained marriage counselor, psychologist or philosopher, is forced to answer them. Consequently, nowadays rabbis are, unfortunately, dealing mainly with issues for which they have not been properly trained, and rarely are they dealing with those areas for which they did receive the proper training.

How can a typical rabbi who married at the age of 19 and has been living with the same woman ever since, truly help someone who is involved in a relationship with his friend’s wife?

Please login or register to see the full article
Moller Villa reflects the old Shanghai lifestyle E-mail

If you plan to visit Shanghai, there is a building that you should not miss. Its official name is Moller Villa, named after Eric Moller, a Jewish resident of Shanghai in the early 20th century.

Located on South Shanxi Road in the former French foreign concession area, Moller Villa is a sight for sore eyes. It may seem out-of-place to the virgin traveller. In the midst of modern apartment buildings, shopping centers, and a lot of traffic noise—this villa is a tranquil place of relaxation.

According to local legend, Eric Moller built this Villa for his beloved daughter in 1936 after she had conveyed her dream of having a fairytale castle. Moller was a SwedishBritish merchant who first came to Shanghai in 1919.

After much success in the shipping business, he became well-known in Shanghai elite circles and a member of the notorious Shanghai Race Club. He invited many different architects to design the Villa to become his own private residence. The end product is a hybrid-fusion style that includes Western and Eastern architectural elements.

The building today still stands in its original condition, protected by the local Shanghai government. At the entryway to the villa, there is a plaque that explains its current status in Shanghai. The plaque states in English and Chinese that it is an “Important Monument under the State Protection.” Not bad for an almost-decade old foreign structure.

Please login or register to see the full article
Carmel Caves added to UNESCO World Heritage Sites E-mail

The Carmel Caves in northern Israel were recently added to the list of World Heritage Sites in the country by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

According to UNESCO, the Carmel Caves provide a definitive chronological framework at a key period of human development.

Situated on the western slopes of the Mount Carmel range, south of Haifa, the site includes four caves. Ninety years of archaeological research have revealed a cultural sequence of unparalleled duration, providing an archive of early human life in south-west Asia.

The area contains cultural deposits representing at least 500,000 years of human evolution demonstrating the unique existence of both Neanderthals and Early Anatomically Modern Humans within the same Middle Palaeolithic cultural framework, the Mousterian.

Evidence from numerous Natufian burials and early stone architecture represents the transition from a hunter-gathering lifestyle to agriculture and animal husbandry.

Please login or register to see the full article
<< Start < Prev 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Next > End >>

Page 14 of 55

Warning: Parameter 1 to modMainMenuHelper::buildXML() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/joomla789/domains/jewishtimesasia.org/public_html/libraries/joomla/cache/handler/callback.php on line 99
Jewish Times Asia is published by Jewish Times Asia Ltd. © Copyright 2020.
Material in the newspaper or on this site may not be used or reproduced in any form or in any way without permission from the editor.
While every effort has been made to ensure the content is true and accurate, the publisher is not responsible for any errors or omissions in the printed text.