Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

The Thought of Rabbi Cardozo and thinking outside of the box

My friend and teacher, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, does not think outside of the box. Since he only joined the fold at a later age, he was able to make sure that Judaism never boxed him in, in the first place.

In tandem with that, he lives a strictly Orthodox life, no doubt also thanks to his very traditional wife, kids and community. As soon as everyone around him becomes a total free-thinker, he probably would quit writing. Just as the great Dutch political satirist Wim Kan said: I too want an ideal world, though I know that it would make me lose my job.

Rabbi Cardozo’s Judaism is alive and fresh, no wax statue, no dead dodo, no brainless routine, no journey on autopilot with the blinds down and the ears plugged. He is a romantic person who actively searches for the beauty, the music behind the notes, the essence beyond the words.

And as in many of our greatest, his respect, care and love are for all people. He’s not just concerned with “us.”

His liberalism stems from knowledge, not ignorance. This makes that the traditional rabbis are terrified of him. They can’t call him an outsider and they can’t laugh him off as an ignoramus.

He has a mindset nor a motive to ignore present problems in Jewish thinking, Jewish Law and Jewish life. But there is more. He loves people, Judaism and G-d too much to let substandard behavior and practice spoil the great good of the Jewish Tradition. We need to face the problems head-on, search for solutions and implement them. He’s an optimist. He knows that we can – and must – improve what’s so valuable.

But he wants us to think for ourselves, not merely follow. He wants us to worry what he worries about but find our own approach.

Reb Yaakov Vogelman OBM once sighed: how can people be so open-minded when learning Talmud and so close-minded when it comes to Weltanschauung (world view)? Rabbi Cardozo hates narrow-mindedness as little else. Disagree with him for all you want but not because you are too timid to think or be honest.

I know the above reads like a eulogy; it can’t be avoided. I wish him and his wife a long and healthy life and much pleasure from family and good news.

And may his new book (mazal tov) for many of us drill away at the box.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch Holocaust survivors in The Netherlands (Westerbork), and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo and Rav Zev Leff. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (of young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners, and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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