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HUC’s Rabbi Green Speaks at The Temple

HUC’s Rabbi Green Speaks at The Temple

[Story by Shiela Wallace]

Rabbi Arthur Green, current rector of the Rabbinic Program at Hebrew College in Boston and former dean of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and professor at Brandeis University, spoke at The Temple’s Friday evening Shabbat Service on May 17 and taught the congregation’s Saturday Morning Torah study class the next day.

On erev Shabbat, Rabbi Green spoke to an audience of approximately 180 Temple members and guests about “A Contemporary Jewish Spirituality.” He focused on the renewed interest in Jewish mystical tradition in the last 20-30 years as liberal religious communities asked themselves what it means to be a religious human being in the 21st century.

Although he said that Jewish tradition contains “a great tool box for developing a spiritual self,” he emphasized the importance of interacting with and learning from followers of other religious traditions. In Rabbi Green’s view, religion must help us rethink where we are and where we are going because we have an urgent need to change our way of living enough that we don’t destroy this planet.

On Shabbat morning, Rabbi Green brought excerpts from Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings from around the Maggid’s Table, his soon to be released translation of the teachings of 40 early Hasidic masters. He engaged a group of 40-45 students with a text relating to the recent holiday of Shavuot, which asks what the Passover Haggadah meant when it said “Had He brought us to Mount Sinai and not given us the Torah, it would have been enough.”

Referring to the teaching that our patriarch Abraham’s faith and purity enabled him to perceive the entire Torah centuries before it was given, the text explains that the Israelites, who had obeyed the command to purify their bodies before they stood at the mountain, were similarly able to perceive the entire Torah moments before it was given.

Rabbi Green tied this teaching to the neo-Hasidic view that we could all discover Torah by turning inward, knowing from within ourselves what we need to do. Our preoccupation with ever-increasing levels of physical comfort blocks that insight to our detriment and to the detriment of the entire planet.

Rabbi Green is a leading authority on and author of many books about Jewish spirituality and Kabbalah and a renowned speaker and teacher of Torah. His appearance at The Temple was made possible by the Martin and Ginger Lewis Memorial Lecture Fund. He also spoke at some Festival of Faith events.

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