The name Bezalel was adopted by the artist Boris Schatz for the School of Arts and Crafts he founded in Israel in 1906, and Rav Kook wrote a touching letter in support of its creation. He saw the renaissance of art in the Holy Land as a symbol of the regeneration of the Jewish people in its own land, landscape and birthplace. Judaism in the Diaspora, removed from a natural connection with its own historic environment, was inevitably cerebral and spiritual, “alienated.”
Judaism is not a religion of blind obedience. Astonishingly of 613 commandments, there is no Hebrew word that means “to obey.” Judaism is the rarest of phenomena: a faith based on asking questions,
Simply too many cases of prayers being answered to deny it makes a difference to our fate. It does.
The life-changing idea of Chukat: we are dust of the earth but there is within us the breath of God. We fail, but we can still achieve greatness. We die, but the best part of us lives on.
What is the difference between philosophy and the political vision at the heart of Tanach? The answer lies in their different understandings of time.
You perpetuate a transformative event by turning it into a ritual.
Joseph is now the ruler of Egypt. The famine he predicted has come to pass. It extends beyond Egypt to the land of Canaan. Seeking to buy food, Joseph’s brothers make the journey to Egypt. They arrive at the palace of the man in charge of grain distribution:
The Torah is not myth but anti-myth, a deliberate insistence on removing the magical elements from the story and focusing relentlessly on the human drama
Rambam: Eating blood's forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We're affected by what we eat
We can be good at many things, but what gives a life direction and meaning is a sense of mission, of something we are called on to do. That is the significance of the opening word of today’s parsha, Vayikra.
The call to Abraham, with which Parshat Lech Lecha begins, seems to come from nowhere: “Leave your land, your birthplace, and your father’s house, and go to a land that I will show you.”
Whichever way we look at it, there is something striking about this almost endlessly iterated concern for the stranger – together with the historical reminder that “you yourselves were slaves in Egypt.” It is as if, in this series of laws, we are nearing the core of the mystery of Jewish existence itself. What is the Torah implying?
What do porcupines do in winter? asked Schopenhauer. If they come too close to one another, they injure each other. If they stay too far apart, they freeze. Life, for porcupines, is a delicate balance between closeness and distance. It is hard to get it right and dangerous to get it wrong. And so it is for us.
In Judaism, monarchy had little or no religious function.
Three moments, sharing the same message, made a deep impression on me: Greatness is humility.
In this week’s parsha, Moshe reaches his lowest ebb. What is striking is the depth of Moses’ despair, the candor with which he expresses it, and the blazing honesty of the Torah in telling us this story.
Why should unintentional sins require atonement? What guilt exists when requisite intent is lacking?
When Moses asks, “Who am I?” He feels himself unworthy and uninvolved. He may have been Jewish by birth, but he had not suffered the fate of his people. How, then, could he become their leader?
A long drama had taken place. Moses had led the people from slavery to the beginning of the road to freedom. The people themselves had witnessed G-d at Mount Sinai, the only time in all history when an entire people became the recipients of revelation. Then came the disappearance of Moses for his long sojourn at the top of the mountain, an absence which led to the Israelites’ greatest collective sin, the making of the Golden Calf. Moses returned to the mountain to plead for forgiveness, which was granted.
Judaism is a religion of compassion, for without compassion law itself can generate inequity. Justice plus compassion equals tzedek, the first precondition of a decent society.
This week's parshah inspired the Jubilee 2000 initiative leading to debt cancellation of $34 biilion
Framing the epic events of this week’s sedrah are two objects: the two sets of tablets – the first given before, and the second after, the sin of the Golden Calf. Of the first, we read: “The tablets were the work of G-d; the writing was the writing of G-d, engraved on the tablets.”
Moses prepares the Israelites for freedom by discussing-children, several times in the parsha
There is a fascinating moment in the unfolding story of the plagues that should make us stop and take notice. Seven plagues have now struck Egypt.
Where then does Jewish singularity emerge? The clue lies in the precise wording of Bilaam’s blessing: “Behold it is a people that dwells alone.”