This month’s art exhibition features the work of Andi Arnovitz and Beth Krensky on the themes of sin and redemption. The following descriptions are by the artists themselves, and help us to better understand the relationships between sin, redemption, and their pieces. To return to this month’s online art exhibition, please visit the Sh’ma homepage, www.shma.com. Lashon HaRav, by Andi
One day this spring, Arnie Eisen, the new Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, buttonholed me in the hallway. Knowing that I am the editor of the new Conservative makhzor, he was eager to offer his views. “Any new siddur,” he said, “has to have an accompanying commentary.” Arnie was confirming the intuition that our
The weight of sin has shifted over the last few centuries. There was a time when sin was directed primarily against God, when it meant the throwing off of His yoke, or the betrayal of one’s nation or community. For the mystic, it was the cause of vast, often irreparable, cosmic damage. Shore looks at one of the great Hasidic masters, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov who felt the burden of sin more acutely than most.
It has long been the claim of the Orthodox community that Jewish law does not or should not change to accord itself with the times. Despite this historically questionable insistence on formal continuity, there are ways that prohibitions of sinful behavior can remain on the books unchanged in their form, and still be wholly transformed in their social effect. Greenberg examines these prohibitions in terms of homosexuality and Orthodoxy.
In his three-volume collection of essays, aphorisms, and diary entries published posthumously as Orot ha-Kodesh (Lights of Holiness), Rav Kook (1865–1935) buries what appears to be an incidental comment about sin in a longer discourse on messianism: “Attachment to God, in its most exalted and pristine manner does not stand in opposition, in any way,
we see we are like a child’s toy to you first you break us now you are telling us your hurt will abate your cruelty will abate if we pay attention to you we see you are so lonely you cry to us and all you ask is our words so we carry them with
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) wrote his powerful, enigmatic short story “The Judgment” during a single all-night session on the eve of Yom Kippur in 1912. An acculturated Czech Jew who was not observant in any traditional sense (though drawn to Zionism, the Yiddish theater, modern Hebrew, and mysticism), Kafka described the writing session as if it
Judith Plaskow’s theology is profoundly experiential. Time and again, she challenges us to return to the multiplicity of human experience, to explore what has been ignored, and to recognize as particular that which has claimed universality. Plaskow has taught us that what is called universal human experience is often male experience and that we must
Sh’ma asked a number of rabbis to consider how they teach about sin, and what role it plays in the spiritual lives of their students and congregants. We explored whether sin is a useful category, or if it simply engenders guilt; the relationship of belief — that is, knowing God as HaMetzaveh — to sinning;