Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Judaism and the Majority Culture
4 Lectures

Item #: S311

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Jews have never been numerous in terms of population. Thus, the Jewish people have always lived apart as a distinct minority in the midst of a greater 'majority culture.' This series by Rabbi Berel Wein portrays Jewish answers to the difficulties posed by paganism, Christianity, Islam, the Enlightenment, and secularism and the tribulations created for Jews by those cultures. This series not only tells the story of the Jewish response to these difficulties, but also provides insights and fascinating information about these non-Jewish cultures. In a time when Judaism is again challenged by new waves of post-modernism and globalization, it is important to learn lessons from the past to see how Jews survived and eventually triumphed over other cultures.

Judaism and Paganism - Living as a minority in a majority culture is a walk on a shaky tightrope. But the Jewish people have an “umbrella” to balance us: the Torah. Rabbi Wein describes the ancient pagan world that challenged our forefathers and shows how halacha is the key to resisting the idolatry of every age.

Judaism and Christianity - Christianity, with its fiery drive to convert the Jews, has proven to be the most formidable of all majority cultures we have had to live with. Rabbi Wein moves us through the centuries, exploring everything from the Crusades to the Spanish Inquisition. But the most insidious and effective approach of all was flattery. Those rare periods of peaceful relations with the Christian world allowed many of their customs to infiltrate ours. Listeners are sure to be surprised by the Christian influence on the Jewish world as we know it.

Judaism and Islam - Like Christianity, Islam was a proselytizing religion, but “conversion by the sword” was an Islamic invention. Yet in spite of this, for centuries, the Jews fared better under Moslem rule than under Christian, mainly because they made themselves useful. Rabbi Wein leads us through the labyrinth history of Moslem-Jewish relations, taking us up to the current crises both in Israel and the world at large.

Judaism and Modernity-The modern world is a technological wonder, but the conveniences we enjoy come with a price. Rabbi Wein poses the yet-unsolved problem of how to remain spiritual in a world which values technology over humans and humans over God.

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