Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Moderate Extremists and The Miraculous Middle (Trumah)

 One of the main tasks of theology is to find words that do not divide but unite, that do not create conflict but unity, that do not hurt but heal. -Henri Nouwen

Moses and Stars (AI art by author)

My paternal grandparents were born in the same town but of different nationalities. The currently Ukrainian town of Beregszász was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The other nations that have since claimed and administered this vibrant town in the Carpathian mountains included Russia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and most recently, Ukraine. It sits at the current intersection or close to Romania, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.

My father often likes to point out some of the personalities that this town gave birth to. My grandparents were apparently middle-of-the-road Jews, working people, modern in the sense of clothing and working with Gentiles, yet respectful and learned in the Jewish laws and traditions. There were a number of ultra-Orthodox Chasidic Rabbis on one hand, and on the other hand, it was also the birthplace of Rabbi Hugo Gryn who went on to become an extremely popular leader of Reform Judaism in the UK.

From my grandfather’s point of view, he might have considered himself in the middle of this spectrum of Judaism. Yet one might also argue that both the ultra-Orthodox Rabbis and Rabbi Hugo Gryn also saw themselves firmly and properly in the middle of their worldviews.

In Exodus Chapter 26, Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Prague, the Kli Yakar (1550-1619), recounts how there was a miracle surrounding the central pole that connected the beams of the Tabernacle. There is a tradition that the pole was able to bend in a supernatural fashion and thereby group all the beams together, from one end of the Tabernacle to the other.

According to the Kli Yakar, there are three other things that have the power to join disparate elements together, to unite even extremes. That is the prime purpose of the Tabernacle (and afterwards the Temple) to join Heaven and Earth, the spiritual to the material, the elevated to the mundane. The second item is stars. Apparently, in some cosmological sense that I don’t fully understand, stars are bridges between our world and otherworldly, cosmic forces. I’ll just take the Kli Yakar’s word for it.

The third and final uniter is man himself. Man has the ability to encompass an extreme divergence of viewpoints. Man can bring together people from opposite sides of political, religious, economic, educational, and almost any other divergence we can think of. Man has that power.

May we learn to unite what is appropriate and stay away from the rest.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the incredible rescue of two of our hostages. May they all be returned safe and sound.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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