Wednesday January 4 | Rabbi Irwin Kula

February 3, 2009 at 8:46 am | Posted in Coming Up | 9 Comments

Join us for a conversation with Irwin Kula, one of the nation’s top Rabbis, about the “clutter” in our lives and how he’s trying to use Jewish teachings to help people of all (or no) faiths.
Rabbi Irwin Kula – Author and President of CLAL

  • Rabbi Kula speaks Feb. 8 at the Jewish Federation of Charlotte. Click for info

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  1. I think talking in terms of “partial truth” rather than “multiple truths” makes more sense. It amazes me that so many people think they can possibly know the entire truth. The reality of our own universe is beyond the understanding of any one person. Not even Einstein had all the answers. Why, then, would anyone believe they completely understand the mind of God? Many of us find the mystery and search for greater truth to be the essence of spirituality.

    The Hindu tale about the Blind Men and the Elephant is the best analogy to how humans view the truth that I have ever read. More people should familiarize themselves with it.

  2. Reading a Richard North Patterson novel “Eclipse” I came across this sentence, which applies in todays world, and gives a positive outlook on setbacks or upheavals. ” There’s no wind so ill it fails to blow a little bit of good”.

  3. If the best are those who love the most people, it seems that would exempt Christians, Jews and Muslims, since we are always bogged down with hating each other. I don’t totally agree with any one religion, but rather find that truth can be found in many traditions. As such, I feel I can love Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and so on.

    I suspect you, as I, love the works of Buber, Hillel and Frankl, but that you probably also love the work of, say, Rumi. Maybe ancient love can overcome ancient hatreds. I pray it will.

  4. The statement was made that since human life is so short, it is impossible to discover the truth in that short time. However, the logic of that is flawed. It would be the same as saying we can never get to the moon, because one person couldn’t figure that out in a lifetime. But getting to the moon, or learning truth is based upon decades of previous thought and investigation and knowledge. We build on what others before have done. We may not know the whole truth, but we have decades of previous learning and experience to draw on.

  5. My comment is so trivial I have waited until Mike got off the phone with Irwin. I disagree with Chris because all truths are not of the same importance, quality or universality. Scientific knowledge and technical knowledge, and the daily tools of thought may be gradually perfecting and accumulating in normal times. Spiritual and even psychological truths are not gradually perfecting and cumulative. As Mike observes we have a short finite life with a tiny beginning of understanding of the nature or purpose of our existence. We are bombarded with information contradicting our spiritual interests and even hostile to the meager understanding we’ve gained. Anyone who sees life as systematic and probabilistic will in the end be contradicted and disappointed. You can’t transfer a technique or model from one realm of life to the other and expect good results. I remember worrying about the Miller Analogies Test for grad school, and finally a woman philosopher friend told me, “They are only testing your ability to tell plausible lies.” Once I had figured out what she meant, that they were testing my usefulness to the interests in power, I felt as enlightened as George Carlin spouting the 7 dirty words, and I didn’t care about being measured anymore. If you’re finding pre-packaged spiritual or ethical truth acceptable then you haven’t yet developed the fortitude or curiosity that can make you whole.

  6. This morning’s show was interesting. I was glad that Mike was leading that sort of conversation on truth. But the only truth that I heard was the Rabbi’s admitting that he was lost. That was an absolute statement.

    This hogwash belief that no real truth exists leads us to higher divorce rates, modern art that looks like garbage but we call it good, women being raped and kids doing poorly in school. If you have questions about these statements–ask and I will explain.

    BernieO above commented about knowing the mind of God. Absolute truth does not claim to know the mind of God in full. It says that there is unchanging truth and we live in an orderly universe.

    The Rabbi may not believe in absolute truths but he sure lives life like it exists. We all do. He makes absolute statements all of the time.

    A few comments about blogs above. To BernieO–the elephant story is goofy rhetoric. I find it interesting because I think it says the opposite of what you want it to. You are wanting it to say that there is no truth or that we each have our own. What is says is that all the men think there is no truth, but we know that there is someone looking down at the elephant who knows the truth. The truth really exists in the story! The elephant really is an elephant. That is why it is a dumb story. It does not say what they (those that want to deny truth) want it to say.

    To Jerry– Every inclination of our heart is bad and it is by the common grace of God that we do anything good. No wind of good apart from God Jerry–(by the way if God does not absolutely exists–words like good are meaningless).

    To David– Somebody is right and somebody is wrong. There are no pieces of the truth floating out there for us to grasp on. Since religions often say polar opposite things, they cannot both be right. For instance, Jesus says that he is the only way. If that is not true, then he is a liar. If it is true, then he is the only way.

    To Chris– We do not even need to build on what we knew before. Truth exists outside of our knowledge. A caveman would know laws of logic (absolute truth)… even if he did not know what they were called, he would know the truth of them.

    I am a Christian. Big surprise, right? I am convinced through great study that God exists and Jesus was giving real truth claims. Now, Jesus is either a liar or he is right. If you believe he is a liar, you have to deal with a lot of questions — ask them to me — and then you should reject him. Don’t give me the good person stuff. If he was lying, he was not a good person. If he was not lying and was telling the truth, you should fall on your knees before him.

  7. Jack– I live my life in a systematic way and I am not disappointed. The truth shall set you free.

  8. Sam, Say Hi to God for me, and I’ll say Hello to Elmo for you. It sounds as if you have not doubted. Without the exercise of doubt the soul cannot flourish and grow. I’ll bet you’re really afraid of your God and what he’ll do if you screw up. I can see Mommy now, showing you Daddy’s belt and warning that he’ll be home when the little hand is on 6 and the big hand on 12. Are these the end times, Sam? Or just the cartoons before the whooping?

    I’ll admit that Kula’s thing is pop religion and bookselling, Kabala mystery puzzles. But at least he’s sticking his neck out and asking questions. You know the Bible and the Koran are books made by political authorities and if you put them in a toilet a plumber can solve any of the resultant problems.(as long as guys like you don’t get worked up) Think of Irwin Kula as a religion plumber who came to Charlotte offering to roto-rooter spiritual clogs. He’s not the Boogerman, and he won’t burn down your church (as seen on WSOC-TV I’mWitless News). Having said all this, if there were a Creator, I’d probably be pals with Her.

  9. If anyone knows who this “Jack Martin” guy is, could you please have him contact me at I need a competent and intelligent male friend (nonsexual) not related by blood. Kool Rabbi Kula would do, but I’m sure he lives too far away and doesn’t have the time. There are some spiritual clogs needing roto-rootering, especially in Gaston County. I think our political breakthrough could originate spiritually and occur out here in the sticks.

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