Saturday 25 March 2023

423) Maimonides calls the belief in Angels an “evil and blind foolishness”



By all accounts, Maimonides (1135/8-1204) had some interesting views on Angels. He certainly did not view angels the same way as most other rabbis did, especially the mystics. In this article, although the style is somewhat cumbersome, we turn to Maimonides’ text in Moreh Nevuchim (Guide for the Perplexed 2:6) to see his actual words describing his position. 

The first challenge often posed to Rambam’s view that angels do not exist as the spiritual beings most understand them to be, is that the Torah mentions angles in contexts that seem to support these popular conceptualisations. However, Rambam does not read angels that way. 

Saturday 18 March 2023

422) The opening and closing blessings of the Amidah have not changed for more than a thousand years?


The world's oldest siddur from about 1 200 years ago.


This article, based extensively on the research by Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber,[1] looks at the popular perception that the daily prayer known as the Shemoneh Esrei, or Amidah particularly the opening and closing blessings have not changed an iota for more than a thousand years.

Saturday 11 March 2023

421) Hirsch, Hildesheimer and Hoffmann: Examining the boundaries of Orthodox modernity

R. Shimshon Refael Hirsch
R. Esriel Hildeshimer
R. David Tzvi Hoffmann


R. Shimshon Refael Hirsch (1808-1888), R. Esriel Hildesheimer (1820-1899) and R. David Hoffman (1843-1921) were early protagonists of what has become known as the Modern Orthodox movement. There were, however, some major disputes between them. This article, based extensively on the research by Professor David Ellenson and Dr Richard Jacobs,[1] looks at some of the differences between these early Modern Orthodox rabbis. 

Sunday 5 March 2023

420) Alleged recruiting methodologies of the early Chassidic movement


The Autobiography of Solomon Maimon


This article, based extensively on the research by Professor Immanuel Etkes,[1] looks at the recruiting processes and other activities of the two early Chassidic courts of R. Dov Ber, known as the Magid of Mezrich, and R. Chaim Chaikel of Amdur. Etkes bases himself on two separate texts allegedly presenting an ‘inside view’ and a personal account of the internal world of early Chassidim.