unraveller
http://bethel.net/
The FJMC's Sefer Haftarah is at Beth El Synagogue, East Windsor, NJ.

Next week it will be at the NNJ/MAR/NYM/HVR Quad Region Retreat at Block & Hexter, Poyntelle, PA

This week's Unraveller is not yet sponsored.


The portion for Bamidbar in the FJMC Sefer Haftarah scroll, the travelling haftarah scroll that visits a different synagogue each week and contains all of the haftarot, was sponsored by the Seaboard Region of the FJMC.


FJMC Factoid: Join us on Linkedin! The FJMC has moved into 24th on the Top Jewish Groups list with 505 members. If you're on Linkedin, join the FJMC's group and help us go right to the top!


. FJMC New England Region
Hebrew Word Initiative

mateh

mateh
tribe
Each week, a set of 5 words are chosen by volunteers from the parsha ha'shavoa.

Did you know that the FJMC offers individual Haftarah parshiyot suitable for framing? Click here for the PDF


Use this link when shopping at
Amazon.com
All purchases via our Amazon links provide critical support to the FJMC, at no additional cost to you!

Visit the FJMC website for upcoming events!
Editorial Board
Rabbi Wayne Allen
Rabbi Leonard S. Berkowitz
Rabbi Paul Drazen
Dr Rela Mintz Geffen
Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi
Rabbi Stephan Parnes

Newsletter Chairmen
David Goldis
Bob Watts


Interested in other Masorti weekly newsletters and commentaries? Click here

Comments?
Looking for an Unraveller?
Sign up here for free home delivery!
Click here to unsubscribe.



 
fjmc
 
May 25, 2012 / 4 Sivan, 5772

Parashat B'midbar

Kaplan and Maimonides

Mordecai Kaplan felt a deep kinship with Maimonides, not only because of the rationalism of the great thinker but also because Maimonides attempt to understand Judaism in terms of the philosophy of Aristotle lead the Rambam in a clearly heretical direction. While the respective reconstructions of Maimonides and Kaplan are obviously very different there is a similarity of pattern here which Kaplan was no doubt aware of.

Kaplanís understanding of Maimonides has clear implications for his own approach to Judaism and its place within the Jewish community. Kaplan states that heretical ideas may be easily accepted by the Jewish people and incorporated into the superstructure of Jewish thought as long as there is a clear commitment to a reinterpretation of Jewish practice. There is no doubt that Maimonides changed the nature of Jewish thought forever.

It was widely believed that the Maimonidean revolution succeeded only because Maimondes was not only perceived as a philosopher but as a halachaist who took seriously the day to day life of the Jewish people with its obligations and sancta[mitzvot].

This fact was not lost on Kaplan himself. He realized at this early point that unless he devoted himself to a more concrete reinterpretation of the sancta [mitzvot] his reconstruction of Judaism would be rejected.

This passage below was written in 1935 just at the point where Kaplan was working on his Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Religion. This seminal Kaplanian work is his attempt to apply his philosophy to the rituals of Jewish life. It might be called Kaplanís Yad Ha-Hazakah [legal code] and his Moreh Nevuchim [Guide for the Perplexed].

In order to understand it more fully we should think of the purpose and meaning of the Maimonides work.

The Significance of Maimonides
Monday, March 18, 1935

I have to speak the coming Wednesday at Plainfield, N.J. on Maimonides. The celebration of M's octocentenary is a welcome relief from the usual round of Jewish activities which are confined to anti-Semitism and fund-raising. For once the Jews engage in something inherently interesting and cultural and for these days when Jews should be wrestling with the problem of self-adjustment there could be no more significant focus of attention than the personality and influence of Maimonides. We cannot learn from what he taught how to meet our own problems today but we can learn a good deal about Judaism and the spiritual possibilities that inhere in it if we realize what it means for his teachings to have found a place in it. It is true that Maimonides effected a reconciliation between Jewish tradition and Aristotelian philosophy. But in the process of reconciling he so changed the entire perspective of Jewish tradition that it lost its original character and became something different. If the intention of an act determines its character, certainly the intention of an entire system of life and thought gives character to that system. What M did was to ascribe to the social heritage of the Jews an intention derived from Greek civilization. He imposed upon Judaism a pattern of meanings previously unknown to it and foreign to its spirit until his day. How is it that Judaism was capable of assimilating his teachings and accepting him as the foremost teacher since the Judah ha-Nasi? The answer is that Judaism, not being an interpretation of life, but a segment of life, not being a religion but a civilization, must admit of various interpretations. If, however, Judaism is to be prevented from disintegrating as a result of diversity of interpretation, its constituent elements and its sancta must function as objects of vital interest. The reason M was able to change the perspective of Judaism without being excommunicated was that he participated in Jewish life and devoted himself to rendering its sancta [mitzvoth] capable of being observed. If he had not been the great Talmudist he was and had not written his Yad Ha-Hazakah, [Legal Code] his interpretation of Judaism would have been repudiated not merely by a zealous minority but by the entire Jewish people. To appreciate the force of the principle here posited vis: that Judaism permits great latitude of interpretation provided the interpretation is accompanied by an active interest in the activities and sancta of Judaism, it is necessary to know the pattern of the entire Maimonidean thought structure.

Questions

How have the Jewish people dealt with heretics? Do you think Spinoza should be welcomed back into Jewish ranks? Do you agree with Kaplanís assumption that Maimonides was a heretic?

Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881-1983) was ordained at JTS and served as a member of its faculty for over fifty years. He is also the founder of Reconstructionism.

This week's special commentary was written by Mel Scult, Kaplanís biographer, professor emeritus from the City University and the editor of selections from Kaplanís twentyĖseven volume diary entitled "Communings of the Spirit."

NEW! We welcome online comments on The Unraveller at Mentschen.org.


New Publications

Leadership - Innovation - Community
Understanding the Haftarot:
An Everyperson's Guide

In this stimulating and unusual book Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of FJMC, provides the reader with the context to understand how the haftarot were organized, why they might have been selected and suggests reasons for finding meaning and value.
You can purchase it a number of ways.
 
Intermarriage: Concepts & Strategies for Families and Synagogue Leaders
If family members and community leaders wish to become engaged in the process of Keruv they often need to ask, "Does Keruv have an ideology and theology? And if so what is it?" Then they need to learn how to respond to intermarriage from the perspective of both gender and religion. This publication reflects the most current thinking about intermarriage to date and attempts to provide family members and community leaders with the needed understanding to effectively work with intermarrieds or potential intermarrieds.
You can purchase it a number of ways:
It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!

HeneniThe "Build a Pair" Program is a comprehensive and fun learning program to introduce 5th, 6th or 7th graders to the joy and mitzvah of Tefillin in Jewish life. Multiple components interplay to explore the religious significance, the construction of, and the practice of "laying" Tefillin. A comprehensive education program with videos helps the religious school teach students the meaning of Tefillin in Jewish life and practice. Students practice writing their Hebrew/Jewish names and the SHEMA (first line) to insert into pre-made wooden Tefillin boxes. Students decorate the boxes in any creative way they wish, allowing for personal expression. Students either compete or cooperate in writing a "wRAP" song to sing at a Big Event. The Big Event can be the World Wide Wrap (WWW), sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (FJMC), held annually on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The WWW program is designed to introduce and re-introduce Jewish men [and women] to the significance of "laying" Tefillin. The "Build a Pair" student program attracts the parents to see their children in their model Tefillin sing the "wRap" songs, allowing two generations (or more!) to join in the mitzvah together, and to let the students' sing their "wRAP" song for an appreciative audience.

World Wide Wrap is Sunday, February 3, 2013
The Bar Mitzvah Wrap!

Help the Unraveller begin our 4th year!
Sponsor the Unraveller now!
Contact FJMC Sponsorship Chairman Tom Sudow
for details and to reserve your week!

 

unraveller
This special mailing from the FJMC is beeing sent to you and the other subscribers of the FJMC's Unraveller as a special promotion. To unsubscribe, simply send an e-mail from the address you wish to unsubscribe, to this address: end-Unraveller@fjmc-consultants.org?subject=Unsubcribe

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! Unsubscribe here
http://twitter.com/unravellerfjmc This e-mail letter is hosted and distributed by INTERACTIVEPAGES, Toronto