The Daily Blast

Rabbi Avery Joel
Head of School
Fuchs Mizrachi School

Rabbi Avery Joel says that resilience is important and that success comes from the ability to rise above failure.

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אֵין בּוּר יְרֵא חֵטְא, וְלֹא עַם הָאָרֶץ חָסִיד, וְלֹא הַבַּיְשָׁן לָמֵד, וְלֹא הַקַּפְּדָן מְלַמֵּד

משנה אבות ב׳:ה׳

A brute is not sin-fearing, nor is an ignorant person pious; nor can a person who is ashamed learn, nor can an impatient person teach.

-Pirkei Avot 2:5

וַאֲדַבְּרָ֣ה בְ֭עֵדֹתֶיךָ נֶ֥גֶד מְלָכִ֗ים וְלֹ֣א אֵבֽוֹשׁ׃

תהילים קי״ט:מו

I will speak of Your decrees (Torah),
and not be ashamed in the presence of kings.

-Psalms 119:46

If you desire to learn, do not say of what you do not understand, ‘I understand it’. If you are asked a question about something in which you are not well versed do not be ashamed to say, ‘I do not know’. If you are taught something and you do not understand it, be not ashamed to say, ‘I do not understand it’.

-Tractate Kallah Rabbati 4:3

Daily Goals

Judaism Is A Religion Of Questions

Isidore Rabi, winner of a Nobel Prize for physics, was once asked why he became a scientist. He replied: “My mother made me a scientist without ever knowing it. Every other child would come back from school and be asked, ‘What did you learn today?’ But my mother used to say, ‘Izzy, did you ask a good question today?’ That made the difference. Asking good questions made me into a scientist.”

Judaism is a religion of questions. The greatest prophets asked questions of God. The Book of Job, the most searching of all explorations of human suffering, is a book of questions asked by man, to which God replies with a string of questions of His own.

The earliest sermons usually began with a question asked of the rabbi by a member of the congregation. Most famously, the Passover Seder begins with four questions asked by the youngest child.

As Wilson Mizner once put it: “I respect faith. But doubt is what gets you an education.” To me, this isa caricature of faith, not faith itself.

What is the asking of a question if not itself a profound expression of faith in the intelligibility of the universe and the meaningfulness of human life? To ask is to believe that somewhere there is an answer. The fact that throughout history people have devoted their lives to extending the frontiers of knowledge is a moving demonstration of the restlessness of the human spirit and its constant desire to transcend, to climb. Far from faith excluding questions, questions testify to faith — that the world is not random, the universe is not impervious to our understanding, life is not chance.

That, I suspect, is why Judaism encourages questions. On the phrase: “Let us make man in Ourimage, according to Our likeness,” Rashi, the 11th-century biblical commentator, says: “This means, with the power to understand and to discern.”

Critical intelligence is the gift God gave humanity. To use it in the cause of human dignity and insight is oneof the great ways of serving God. When faith suppresses questions, it dies. When it accepts superficial answers, it withers.

Faith is not opposed to doubt. What it is opposed to is the shallow certainty that what we understand is all there is.

“Did you ask a good question today?”


Daily Quotes

"Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers."

-Tony Robbins

"The quality of a leader cannot be judged by the answers he gives, but by the questions he asks."

- Simon Sinek

"All art really does is keep you focused on questions of humanity, and it really is about how do we get on with our maker."

- David Bowie

Today In Jewish History

20 Elul – German Reparations – 1952

On this day in 1952, the Luxembourg Agreement was signed between the young State of Israel and West Germany.  In the agreement, Israel agreed to accept reparations from Germany.  As early as 1943 Jewish groups began working on their demands to be requested after the bloody war came to an end.  In the 1945 Paris Conference on Reparations, the concept of Jewish reparations was completely ignored. It wouldn’t be until 1951 when German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer would insist that the German people pay reparations to the Jews.  He felt the German people needed to confront their guilt for what they had all been complicit in.  

The issue of accepting the money from the Germans was hotly debated in Israel.  Menachem Begin felt that Jews should not accept money from the Germans lest it absolves them of their hideous crimes. Ben Gurion argued the other side that the murderers should not become the heirs of Jewish property. 15,000 Israelies protested and rioted when the Knesset was discussing the matter.  Ultimately Ben Gurion’s argument won, as his party was in power at the time.  The Arab League was strongly opposed to the agreement and threatened a boycott of the Federal Republic of Germany, but did not follow through due to economic considerations, namely the Arab League would suffer far more from losing trade with West Germany than West Germany would from the Arab League.

In the end, 3 Billion German Marks ($1.8 Billion) were paid to Israel and 450 Million Marks ($268 Million) were paid to the World Jewish Congress. 

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