Visiting Torah scholar focuses on ‘the inner reality’
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- Published: Thursday, 22 May 2014 09:00
- Written by Carol Katzman, Special to The Chronicle
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For those who have followed Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz’s teachings, his books, podcasts from earlier tape recordings and lectures, his visit here May 30-June 1 is a welcome one. At last, the great Torah scholar, author, physician and medical ethicist will reveal what seems so difficult to laymen — “the inner reality” — the hidden meaning in the Torah.
As Rabbi Tatz notes in his profound book, “Worldmask”: “In Hebrew, the word for ‘word’ and for a ‘thing’ are the same — ‘davar,’ all things in the world are in fact none other than Divine words crystallized into material existence.” For those searching for spirituality, for meaning in what seems to be a meaningless world, Rabbi Tatz offers insight, a depth of Torah knowledge and critical examination of the great Jewish texts.
“Rabbi Tatz is a world renowned speaker and author,” said Rabbi Dani Rockoff, spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel Abraham & Voliner. “I personally have gained so much from reading his books, ‘Worldmask’ and ‘Living Inspired.’ The one time I was fortunate enough to hear him speak, many years ago in Israel, made a profound impression on me as well — and I am eagerly anticipating Rabbi Tatz’s visit here.”
Co-sponsored by Congregation BIAV and the Kansas City Community Kollel, the scholar-in-residence program will feature Rabbi Tatz in five presentations over the course of Shabbat and Sunday. Beginning with a catered dinner at 8 p.m. on Friday night following Kabballat Shabbat, Rabbi Tatz will give his first talk in BIAV’s sanctuary at 9 p.m. on: “The Mystery of Free Will.”
On Shabbat morning, Rabbi Tatz will preview the upcoming holiday commemorating the receiving of the Torah with “Shavuot: Greater than the Sum of the Parts.” Prior to Mincha, the topic is “Torah: the Genes of Reality,” and during Shalosh Seudat, Rabbi Tatz will conclude his shiurim (lectures) at BIAV with “Who Owns Your Body?”
Closing the S-I-R weekend on Sunday morning at 10 a.m., the Kollel will present a brunch in the Social Hall at the Jewish Community Campus.
“I first heard Rabbi Tatz speaking in Manchester, England, when I was a student in 2000,” Rabbi Binyomin Davis said. “His ability to explain a complex topic in an understandable manner was outstanding, and ever since I have listened to dozens of his classes online. Wellsprings of knowledge come forth when studying with Rabbi Tatz.”
The rabbi’s talk on June 1, which is open to the community, is entitled “Living Inspired in the 21st Century.”
Rabbi Tatz took a somewhat circuitous route from his upbringing in Johannesburg, South Africa, to his position today as a teacher and lecturer on Jewish thought and medical ethics at the Jewish Learning Exchange in London and internationally. He studied medicine at the University of Witwatersrand and graduated with distinction in surgery. He spent a year in St. Louis as an American Field Service Scholar and subsequently returned there for elective work in internal medicine at Washington University.
Dr. Tatz served as medical officer in the South African Defence Force and completed a tour of duty on the Namibian border during the conflict there. He subsequently moved to Israel where he worked in hospitals and general medicine in Jerusalem. After practising medicine and studying in yeshiva concurrently for some time, Dr. Tatz undertook a number of years of Talmudic study, and later, teaching in Jewish thought and medical ethics in Jerusalem.
He founded the Jerusalem Medical Ethics Forum, of which he is director, for the purpose of teaching and promoting knowledge of Jewish medical ethics internationally.
In addition to “Worldmask” and “Living Inspired,” he is the author of books on Jewish thought and medical ethics, including: “Anatomy of a Search, The Thinking Jewish Teenager’s Guide to Life” (which BIAV gives to its Bar and Bat Mitzvah students), “Letters to a Buddhist Jew, Dangerous Disease and Dangerous Therapy in Jewish Medical Ethics,” and “Will, Freedom and Destiny”. He is also the co-author of “Reb Simcha Speaks.” His work has been translated into Spanish, Russian, French, Portuguese and Italian.
Rabbi Davis added, “How appropriate that Rabbi Dr. Tatz will be sharing his mystical and inspirational messages with us right before Shavuot — the festival where we received the Torah.”