Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo: “I am Taking Off My Kippah”

rabbi cardozo

Sunday May 25th 2014
Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo
Dean, David Cardozo Academy
Maccabi Centre, Manchester

“I am Taking Off My Kippah”
Being religious, not observant.
How to start Judaism all over again.

Click here to view handout from the lecture

About Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo
Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a world-renowned thinker, lecturer and ambassador for Judaism and the Jewish people. He is known for his original insights into how Judaism can rejuvenate itself, showing new ways to authentic religiosity. He is a sought-after lecturer on Judaism and Israel at numerous institutions of higher academic learning, including Jewish study programs at leading universities, religious academies and rabbinical colleges. He is also the founder and Dean of the David Cardozo Academy, the Aron and Betsy Spijer Institute. The Institute is a think-tank where rabbis, educators and professors under Rabbi Cardozo’s guidance try to lay the foundations of a new approach to Judaism based on the classical sources. The author of many books on Judaism, Rabbi Lopes Cardozo writes a weekly column, “Thoughts to Ponder,” on his website (cardozoacademy.org). Educated in Amsterdam, he received his rabbinical degree from Gateshead Talmudical College, studied at Yeshivat Mir in Jerusalem, and holds a doctorate in philosophy. Rabbi Cardozo is a distinguished member of the Portuguese and Spanish Jewish community and lives with his wife, children and grandchildren in Jerusalem.

Click here to read ‘Lonely but not Alone’, a short spiritual autobiography by Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo.

1 thought on “Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo: “I am Taking Off My Kippah””

  1. Rabbi Lopes Cardozo’s lecture was, to say the least, thought provoking. These are some of the thoughts it has provoked in me:

    1. We frequently read and hear that Judaism is not a religion but a way of life. Rabbi Lopes Cardozo seems to view the Jewish way of life, as it is commonly portrayed in the orthodox world, a an obstacle to Jewish religiosity, whatever that is.
    2. At the same time he clearly gives value to the perhaps hum drum routine commonly associated with Judaism as “a way of life”, as evidenced by the story he told about the atheist young man in the synagogue in Harlem.
    2. The “Wow factor” was referred to several times in relation to the function of halacha. I ask whether a “wow experience” is necessarily, or exclusively, a religious experience. I can see no reason why an atheist cannot have such experiences. What does it mean therefore to make such experiences central to Jewish religiosity?
    4. Rabbi Lopes Cardozo stresses the individuality of our neshamot and relies to a considerable extent on hassidic sources in proposing a model in which our souls are straining to blossom unfettered in a renewed halachic structure and belief system.
    5. I consider that the specifically Jewish neshama concept is problematic although it undoubtedly features in many of our texts, cf. the Kuzari, in particular.
    6. The Rambam seems to say that a Jewish mind (or neshama, if you will) is not something that a person is born with, but is something that is created by a person, to a greater or lesser extent, as a consequence of intellectual effort and advancement.
    7. It may follow therefore that many of our minds/neshamot are not so much obstructed by the current framework of halacha and the Jewish belief system, but need them. I refer particularly, though not exclusively, to the so-called orthoprax, of whom there are, I suspect, many more than is commonly thought. Rabbi Lopes Cardozo’s ideas do not seem to address the dilemma of the orthoprax.
    8. Rabbi Lopes Cardozo warmly criticized the codification of the Jewish belief system and halacha by the Rambam, although he explained why it was perhaps unavoidable. I suggest (i) that a careful rereading of the Rambam’s Introduction to Perek Chelek will reveal the Rambam’s intent (cf. Marc Shapiro’s “The Limits of Orthodox Theology”, which Rabbi Lopes Cardozo plugged and (ii) that the Moreh Nebuchim is perhaps the Rambam’s “antidote” to the codification of beliefs and halacha that Rabbi Lopes Cardozo decries.
    9. However, the effectiveness of the Rambam’s necessary beliefs perhaps needs to be queried, now that the “cat is out of the bag” for so many.

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