Rabbi Benjamin Hecht is the Founding Director of NISHMA, an international Torah research, resource and educational endeavour devoted to the fostering of individual inquiry and the critical investigation of contemporary issues. He also serves on the Rabbinical Advisory Board of Koshertube, as Rabbinic Advisor to Yad HaChazakah – the Jewish Disability Empowerment Center and has a regular monthly column in the Jewish Tribune. In addition to his rabbinical ordination, he holds degrees in law (Ll.B.), psychology (B.A.) and administration (M.B.A.).
I have found it most intriguing that criticism has recently been voiced against Donald Trump simply because he has changed his mind in regard to various policy positions. During the campaign, he said...
I am horrified by what happened in Quebec last week. Innocent people were killed and injured because someone indolently grouped together all sub-groupings of a faith into one broad category. The answer, however, will not be found in just ignoring the existence of such sub-groupings who are persecutors.
Continuing the thoughts of my last post, Circling the Wagons,... We all value freedom of speech - but wherein lies the true value? Is it just that we like the ability to give voice to our thoughts an...
In ancient Israel, there was a period of time when the society was beneficially directed, in the development and practice of the law, by two houses of scholarship- the House of Hillel and the House of...
Is it any wonder why evil individuals see themselves as doing good? Once they have an opinion, they can argue that it is even wrong to question such an opinion so they must be good. The fact is that such inflexibility can also lock someone into defending generally positive opinions in a dangerously rigid manner.
I saw a clip of a woman asking Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson how he reconciles traditional Christian values, specifically the caring of the indigent, with present Republican policies to...
One who wants to take in the Syrian refugees presents only the narrow facts and arguments that support such a conclusion. One who wants to refuse these refugees also only presents the narrow facts and arguments . All you hear is misleading simplicity -- from both sides.
Recently, a court in Germany found Oskar Groening, nicknamed the Bookkeeper of Auschwitz, guilty of being an accessory to murder. He was convicted for his activities at this notorious concentration and death camp during the Second World War.
If a religion preaches discrimination against another? Would not supporting freedom of religion, in this case, be then a force for discrimination? While many people may not recognize this -- or wish to recognize this -- this was also a real concern when the concept of freedom of religion first arose in force. Is a religious practice inherently discriminatory or is this possible discrimination simply a side-result of the action, essentially undertaken for other reasons? The fact is that rights of individuals often invariably collide.
Within the English language, the term for God is exactly that, a term. Without a capital letter, god refers to the pagan deities of idolatry, the supernatural beings of polytheistic religions. With a...
As the media speaks of Islamist terrorist attacks killing 17 people in France last week, we clearly, and correctly, forge a connection between the two actual events -- the murders at the Charlie Hebdo...
In the comments that followed my last posting there was one that equated the treatment of Palestinians by Jews in Israel with the treatment of Jews by Nazis during the Holocaust. What troubled me about this specific comment, however, and left me effectively speechless, though, was the comparison to Nazi Germany.
I can understand why President Obama referred to the beheading of Peter Kassig by ISIS as "an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity." In many ways, I share his sentiments. But such terms actually only cloud over the real problem, the real defect, upon which we should really be focusing.
The fact is that for such a 'religious' person, what they determine to be ethical comes from a system that may be totally independent from other systems. This can make dialogue effectively impossible for there is no point of connection. What these people accept as right or wrong is solely what the 'deity' in which they believe defines as right or wrong.
In so many cases, throughout the world, we are fighting enemies that are acting in ways that we find to be totally reflective of evil. The further problem, though, is that these groups actually believe themselves, in their behaviour, to be the virtues of good.
I find it problematic hearing a Hamas representative using a concern for non-combatant citizens to criticize Israel. By definition, in being a member of a terrorist organization and, thus, in promoting the firing of rockets indiscriminately into civilian population centres, such an individual has already declared that he/she does not believe in a value of not attacking non-combatant civilians, including women and children.
Two general arguments thus exist against any act of terrorism. One is substantive, an argument that the situation which the terrorist defines as necessitating eradication is, in fact, not the case. The terrorist's perception and determination of the facts, in themselves, are challenged. Accordingly, there is no argument for terrorism as there is no need for terrorism.
What do people really mean by God? What do people really mean by morality? What do people really believe about the connection? This report raises more questions than it answers. It tells us what many people said, but not really what they meant
I understand the importance of free thought and the necessity for societies to allow for variant perceptions on God including atheism. It is for this reason that I, as a religious person, strongly advocate for freedom of religion and decry these nations who persecute those who, in the process of thought, arrive at different perspectives.