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By July 10, 2018 Read More →

Remembering Ha’Rav Amital ZT’L- Rav Alex Israel

Today is Ha’Rav Amital’s 8th Yahrzeit.

Rav Alex Israel wrote these thoughts on Erev Shabbat, in his memory:

I want to share two iconic ideas of his, both from our parashat hashavua – Parashat Pinchas. These ideas represent ‎different, possibly divergent sentiments, and yet both messages were repeated countless times by ‎Rav Amital, and whereas they each portray his teachings, their combination really reflects his special ‎nature, ‎

THE FIRST IDEA, regarding the daughters of Zelopchad, expresses Rav Amital’s human sensitivity and ‎his understanding that Torah must be open to human engagement:‎

‎“When dealing with a community, it is important to be sensitive to the motivation that lies ‎behind people’s questions and attitudes, and to respond appropriately.‎

One of the most serious issues facing Judaism today is the role of women in religion. The call ‎for active participation of women in minyanim, for example, often springs from a spiritual ‎yearning to come closer to God. It can be extremely difficult to experience the intensity of ‎prayer while only passively participating in the service, and a feeling of frustration often ‎results.‎

The answer offered to these problems cannot be a close-ended, “This is what the Halakha ‎states and there is therefore no room for discussion.” One cannot ignore the spiritual needs of ‎others and, although the Halakha must be strictly adhered to, there must be an identification ‎with and an understanding of those affected. Even if we cannot, like Moshe, turn directly to ‎God for a solution, we must listen attentively and empathetically.” (See the entire shiur ‎http://etzion.org.il/en/question-motivation)‎

This idea represents Rav Amital’s dynamism and responsiveness, his attention to the needs of the hour, his openness and humanity.

THE SECOND IDEA is a lost midrash that Rav Amital loved to cite. It was found in an esoteric Maharal, ‎and it suggested that the greatest mitzva on the Torah was not “Love thy neighbour as yourself” as ‎Rabbi Akiva had taught, but instead, the verse which outlines the mitzva of the “Korban Tamid” the ‎daily sacrifice of “one lamb in the morning and a second in the evening.” ‎

What is special about this Mitzva? Rav Amital explained that it was precisely its consistency – daily, ‎twice daily – the notion of routine, regular habituated observance, “dry” halakhic performance, constant, unchanging, day-in day-out. For him, it was normal life and not peak ‎experiences, that must constitute the bedrock of Jewish observance.‎

‎(See more at: https://www.thelehrhaus.com/…/rav-yehuda-amital-and-the-se…/ and http://etzion.org.il/en/religious-insecurity-and-its-cures)‎

Rav Amital’s words ring in my ears.

Happy is the person who has the verse: ‎כן בנות צלפחד דוברות‎ in one pocket, ‎and the verse: ‎את הכבש האחד תעשה בבוקר ואת הכבש השני תעשה בין הערביים‎ in the other.‎

May the remembrance of Rav Amital and his ideas serve as a blessing.

‎(My “hesped” for Rav Amital here: https://thinkingtorah.blogspot.com/…/no-shortcut-judaism-‎i…)‎

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