A Day Is A Thousand Years: Human Destiny And The Jewish People

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Humans have this remarkable ability to know and not to know at the same time. You cannot play games or read novels unless you suspend disbelief at least for a little while. To really enjoy football, you have to accept the rules of the game, and forget for at least 90 minutes that they are merely human inventions. Football may begin with just having fun, but it can then become far more serious stuff, as any English hooligan or Argentinian nationalist will attest. Football can help formulate personal identities, it can cement large-scale communities, and it can even provide reasons for violence.

Nations and religions are football clubs on steroids.

A Day Is A Thousand Years: Human Destiny And The Jewish People

Truth and power can travel together only so far. Sooner or later they go their separate ways. If you want power, at some point you will have to spread fictions. If you want to know the truth about the world, at some point you will have to renounce power. You will have to admit things — for example about the sources of your own power — that will anger allies, dishearten followers or undermine social harmony. Scholars throughout history faced this dilemma: do they serve power or truth?

Should they aim to unite people by making sure everyone believes in the same story, or should they let people know the truth even at the price of disunity? The most powerful scholarly establishments — whether of Christian priests, Confucian mandarins or communist ideologues — placed unity above truth. As a species, humans prefer power to truth. We spend far more time and effort on trying to control the world than on trying to understand it — and even when we try to understand it, we usually do so in the hope that understanding the world will make it easier to control it.

Therefore, if you dream of a society in which truth reigns supreme and myths are ignored, you have little to expect from Homo sapiens. Better try your luck with chimps. All this does not mean that fake news is not a serious problem, or that politicians and priests have a free licence to lie through their teeth. It would also be wrong to conclude that everything is just fake news, that any attempt to discover the truth is doomed to failure, and that there is no difference whatsoever between serious journalism and propaganda.

Underneath all the fake news, there are real facts and real suffering. In Ukraine, for example, Russian soldiers are really fighting, thousands have really died, and hundreds of thousands have really lost their homes. Therefore instead of accepting fake news as the norm, we should recognise it is a far more difficult problem than we tend to assume, and we should strive even harder to distinguish reality from fiction.

One of the greatest fictions of all is to deny the complexity of the world, and think in absolute terms of pristine purity versus satanic evil. No politician tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but some politicians are still far better than others. Given the choice, I would trust Churchill much more than Stalin, even though the British PM was not above embellishing the truth when it suited him. Similarly, no newspaper is free of biases and mistakes, but some newspapers make an honest effort to find out the truth whereas others are a brainwashing machine.

PDF A Day Is A Thousand Years: Human Destiny And The Jewish People

It is the responsibility of all of us to invest time and effort in uncovering our biases and in verifying our sources of information. First, if you want reliable information — pay good money for it. If you get your news for free, you might well be the product. Few sane people would. The second rule of thumb is that if some issue seems exceptionally important to you, make the effort to read the relevant scientific literature. And by scientific literature I mean peer-reviewed articles, books published by well-known academic publishers, and the writings of professors from reputable institutions.

Science obviously has its limitations, and it has got many things wrong in the past. Nevertheless, the scientific community has been our most reliable source of knowledge for centuries. Scientists, for their part, need to be far more engaged with current public debates. They should not be afraid of making their voice heard when the debate wanders into their field of expertise, be it medicine or history.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Zvi Faier, the gifted Torah scholar, theoretical physicist and poet, passed away in , on the 10th of Tevet , after a long illness borne with dignity and courage. There recently appeared the first of two posthumously published works that show the amazing breadth of his knowledge, insights and interests. A Day Is a Thousand Years , published by Chaim Mazo, and with a moving and very perceptive preface by his daughter Tziporah Lifshitz, is notable not only for its being a unique exposition of major Judaic concepts related to the destiny of the Jewish people and their interplay with the rest of mankind throughout history and until today, but also for its rich language and beautiful flowing style and imagery combining prose and verse.

Born in in the town of Hrubieszow in southern Poland, his childhood was spent in southern Russia where the family had fled to escape the Nazis. In , the family emigrated to Canada where Zvi received a yeshiva education.

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In , he completed his doctoral studies and was awarded a Ph. He embarked on a scientific career, first as research physicist at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, then as a member of the physics faculty at St. After making aliyah in , he continued his Talmudic studies with Rabbi Zimmerman at the Harry Fischel Institute, where he received rabbinic ordination in In he embarked on a career of translating such classic works of Jewish exegesis as the Malbim commentary, Meam Loez , and the Daat Sofrim commentary, and in he published his first original work, Burnt Offering: a Return to the Physical and Intellectual Jerusalem , co-authored with Dr.

Haim Sokolik. In his teaching and research, Dr. Faier focused on clarifying and applying the conceptual links between modern scientific methods and results and fundamental teachings of Judaism, and developing a scientific analysis of Talmudic sources. His aim was to generate an integrated understanding of Torah, man and the scientific universe. The book is characterized by great intellectual scope and freedom and a profound striving for true understanding. Whereas it is an impassioned hymn of praise to the G-d of Israel and the Torah, this work is also a plea, directed to reinforcing the sublime in the hearts of all men.

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To and for each other, he is the man and she is the woman. Moreover, in this profound situation, the husband and wife make very special demands on each other, demands that would be totally unreasonable if extended outside their own communion. But in their relations with the outside world, he is just a man and she is just a woman. So it is with the covenantal relationship between God and the Jewish people.

But in relation to the rest of the world, God is the highest power and authority elohim , whose distinction from the other powers and authorities in the world is one of degree, not one of kind. Likewise, that Israel perceives itself in an intimate covenantal relationship with God does not exclude some other nation, religion or group perceiving itself in an intimate covenantal relationship with God.

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Covenant and its correlate chosenness, understood as relational distinctiveness, constitute a paradigm or prototype, not a unique category. There is room for religious pluralism. Does it Matter What Christians Claim? From a theological point of view, since Jewish doctrine is defined by the Torah as interpreted by the rabbis and their successors, not by the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church nor by the broad consensus of member Churches of the World Council, it does not matter to Jews whether Christians claim that God has or has not revoked His covenant with them.

We know He has not revoked it, and if Catholics or any others are in error on this point of doctrine it is not the only one or the most important one on which they are in error. The Catholic Church does not worry whether we formally endorse its doctrines, so why should we worry whether it endorses ours? But this is to take a simplistic and somewhat medieval approach. Certainly, the abandonment by Christians of such pernicious ideas is enthusiastically welcomed by Jews.

Most Jews will warmly welcome this sentiment.

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They may not necessarily reciprocate in kind; this will depend on whether they prefer to regard Christianity as an independent faith, even though acknowledging that it shares some text and history. What is the significance of a covenantal relationship including Jews and Christians but excluding other faiths? As we have suggested, it might indicate a special relationship between Jews and Christians based on their shared scriptures and history. This relationship might exist within the broader framework of a covenant of all faiths Jews would understand this as the Noah Covenant, Catholics as the Covenant with Abel.

That covenant in turn might be part of the Creation Covenant binding God to the whole of His creation. I have insisted that covenant language is metaphor, not object language. I am the Lord thy God Exod. The Lord spoke with you face to face in the mount Deut. Saying, I am the Lord thy God. For if each and every man in Israel felt at Sinai that the Lord was looking at him, we may understand that each and every Christian might feel the Lord is looking at him through Jesus, and mutatis mutandis for men and women of other faiths.

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These relationships are distinctive, but not exclusive. As the thesis stated, covenant and its correlate chosenness, understood as relational distinctiveness, constitute a paradigm or prototype, not a unique category. Fourteen Theses on Covenant. We may now rearrange the theses derived in the main discussion to formulate our understanding of covenant language and its uses in religious discourse.

The presentation, firmly rooted in traditional and modern Jewish sources, retains the distinctiveness of Judaism and the Jewish relationship with God, whilst enabling a theology of religious pluralism and dialogue, and remaining open on the precise nature of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. Agus, Jacob B. Wesen des Judentums was first published in Borowitz, Eugene B.

Brockway, Allan R. VII , Eichrodt, W.

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Goetze, A. Greenberg, I. Maimonides, Moses, The Guide of the Perplexed , tr. Shlomo Pines.

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