Episode 33: A Spirit of Generosity Revolution w/Rabbi Art Green
“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion--its message becomes meaningless.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
Rabbi Art Green received his BA and doctorate from Brandeis University and his MA and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Rabbi Green has studied with important teachers such as Alexander Altmann and Abraham Joshua Heschel.
He has taught Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, and theology to several generations of students at the University of Pennsylvania, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Brandeis, and now at Hebrew College. He was the founder of Havurat Shalom in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1968.
Rabbi Art Green is author of over a dozen books. Among his scholarly works are Tormented Master: A Life of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav and Keter: The Crown of God in Early Jewish Mysticism. In 2015, he published The Heart of the Matter. His most recent books are Radical Judaism; Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings from around the Maggid’s Table; and Judaism’s Ten Best Ideas: A Brief Guide for Seekers.
In this episode, Rabbi Art Green discusses:
Creating a Judaism that would have been open and inviting (without judgement) to spiritual seekers, rule breakers, and border crossers such as Abraham.
How there exists an addiction to success and how that allows for many of our youth to fall through the cracks and be lost to other communities who will provide loving support regardless if they were admitted to an Ivy League school.
The lessons that he holds dear to his heart from the Hasidic thinker of Menachem Nochum Twersky of Chernobyl and how they push him to find the holy sparks in any and all moments of his life. We also discussed how this spiritual practice of searching for and being open to ‘raising holy sparks’ can be both exhilarating and also exhausting.
For some resources recommended by Rabbi Art Green - be sure to check out:
“God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism” by Abraham Joshua Heschel
“The Glass Bead Game” by Hermann Hesse
“Report to Greco” by Nikos Kazantzakis
The film: He Who Must Die
The organization: The Institute for Jewish Spirituality
Rabbi Art Green speaks about the importance of finding the good and holy sparks in the most unlikely of places. He mentioned how this was done by the first rabbis of the Hasidic movement by having conversations with the poor beggars by the market stalls in Ukraine - it reminded me of this video of Rabbi Grossman (an Israel prize recipient) who left Jerusalem and moved to a city inundated with poverty to remind the residents there that they are humans of worth and are not forgotten. He initiated a massive prison rehabilitation program and also went to Discotheques to speak with youths addicted to drugs. To see more, click on the video below!
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