When Jews abandon Judaism, they do it with a vengeance, often bringing other Jews and plenty of devastation with them. From “Acher” of the Talmud to the converts of Spain to the atheism of Karl Marx, Rabbi Wein assesses the damage of Jewish apostasy – not just to the individual apostate but to the Jewish world as a whole.
Elisha ben Abuyah/Acher - When the Talmudic sages gave the apostate Elisha ben Abuya the epithet “Acher,” they meant it as a term of derision. Yet they so respected his wisdom, they never censored him out of the Mishnah. Rabbi Wein puzzles through the stories surrounding this enigmatic figure, showing how a fallen Torah scholar represents the ultimate tragedy in Jewish life.
Karl Marx - “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” claimed one of the Jewish world’s most virulent self-haters. And thus came his rallying cry, “Workers of the world, unite!” After all the death and destruction that Communism caused, it’s difficult to understand why so many people fell for it – and why a disproportionate number of them were Jews. But Rabbi Wein tackles exactly that issue, from Karl Marx’s personal history to the poverty of Eastern European Jewry. And lest we think that the end of the Soviet Union meant the end of communism, Rabbi Wein shows the repercussions affecting Israel today.
The Spanish Apostates - Perhaps no phase in the Jewish exile saw as many conversions as Christian-dominated Spain. Pablo Christiani, opponent of the Ramban in the famous forced debate, was a Talmudic scholar who craved the power and prestige of the priesthood. Abraham Señor, financial advisor to Ferdinand and Isabella, converted to keep his wealth and status. Meanwhile, the converso Jews hid themselves in fear of Torquemada, himself a descendant of apostate Jews.
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|Author||Rabbi Berel Wein|