t was not Joseph but Judah who conferred his identity on the people; Judah who became the ancestor of Israel’s greatest king, David; Judah from whom the messiah will be born. Why Judah and not Joseph? The answer undoubtedly lies in the beginning of Parshat Vayigash,
One passage in this week’s sedrah shows how differences in interpretation can lead to, or flow from, profound differences in culture. Ironically, the subject concerned – abortion – remains deeply contentious to this day.
All agree that Jews ARE different. How? Why? The Bible's answer is surprising and profound.
Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers -- how is that compatible with the idea that children may suffer for the sins of their parents?
Judaism is less a philosophical system than a field of tensions – between universalism and particularism, for example, or exile and redemption, priests and prophets, cyclical and linear time, and so on.
Moses prepares the Israelites for freedom by discussing-children, several times in the parsha
Shakespeare is expressing the medieval stereotype of Christian mercy (Portia) as against Jewish justice (Shylock).
A key to help unlock the entire project outlined by Moses in Sefer Devarim, the final book of the Torah, from a most unlikely source...
In September 2010, BBC, Reuters and other news agencies reported on a sensational scientific discovery. Researchers at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado showed through computer simulation how the division of the Red Sea might have taken place.
If we parents fail to honor responsibilities then society’s children will pay the price for our sins
Could we understand the history of Israel without its prehistory, the stories of Abraham and Sarah and their children?
Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.
The setting: Jerusalem some twenty centuries ago. The occasion: bringing first fruits to the Temple. Here is the scene as the Mishnah describes it. Throughout Israel, villagers would gather in the nearest of 24 regional centres. There, overnight, they would sleep in the open air. The next morning, the leader would summon the people with words from the book of Jeremiah (31:5): “Arise and let us go up to Zion, to the House of the Lord our God.”
Sadly, we're no longer an edah; We've fissured and fractured: Orthodox & Reform; religious & secular
Greatness is humility. This idea – counter-intuitive, unexpected, life-changing – is one of the great contributions of the Torah to Western civilization and found in the words of Moses in this week's sedra
Abraham was acting on both occasions--the banishment of Ishmael and the sacrifice of Isaac--against his emotions, his paternal instincts. What is the Torah telling us about the nature of fatherhood?
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you fail. Such is life.
The very act of learning in rabbinic Judaism is conceived as active debate, a kind of gladiatorial contest of the mind.
The first recorded instance of civil disobedience is the story of Shifra and Puah, defying Pharaoh
Having set out the broad principles of the covenant, Moses now turns to the details, which extend over many chapters and several parshiyot. The long review of the laws that will govern Israel in its land begin and end with Moses posing a momentous choice.
The opening three laws of this parsha- a captive woman taken in war, the law about the rights of the firstborn, and the “stubborn and rebellious son” – are all about dysfunctions within the family.
Jacob and Esau are about to meet again after a separation of 22 years. It is a fraught encounter. Once, Esau had sworn to kill Jacob as revenge for what he saw as the theft of his blessing. Will he do so now, or has time healed the wound? Jacob sends messengers to let his brother know he is coming. They return, saying that Esau is coming to meet Jacob with a force of 400 men. We then read: “Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed” (Genesis 32:8).
The paradox of Jewish spirituality: No religion holds God higher, but none feels Him closer
In the Torah, law and narrative are intertwined for the very profound reason that G-d’s law is not arbitrary. It speaks to the human condition, arising out of human history.
In Bamidbar, the fledgling Jewish nation is ready to move on. This time they are looking forward, not back. They are thinking not of the danger they are fleeing from but of the destination they are traveling toward, the Promised Land.