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The Rambam

Maimonides (aka “the Rambam,” the Hebrew acronym derived from his full name, Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon) died on this date in 1204, at age 69. His Guide for the Perplexed helped bring Judaism into contact with science and Aristotelian philosophy and greatly fortified the intellectual integrity of Jewish philosophy. Born in Muslim-ruled Spain toward the end of a period […]

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The New-ish, Jew-ish Economy

REPARATIONS, SUSTAINABILITY, DEMOCRACY by Kate Poole and Jessica Rosenberg Published in the Spring 2017 issue of Jewish Currents.   WHAT ARE our roles and our responsibilities, as Jews, in the economy? Hand in hand with the economic, political, scientific, and agricultural change that we are seeking, we believe that we must also be working towards […]

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People of the Book 101

by Bennett Muraskin Discussed in this essay: The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature, by Adam Kirsch. W.W. Norton & Company, 2016, 407 pages. LITERARY CRITIC, essayist, and secular Talmudist Adam Kirsch is a 40-year-old Jewish intellectual with an extraordinary breadth and depth of knowledge. He has a regular column in the […]

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December 10: Averroes and the Jews

Medieval Spanish Muslim philosopher Averroes (Abul Walid Muhammed Ibn Ahmad Ibn Rushd), whose writings were generally condemned by the Moors and preserved for the ages only in Hebrew translation (or transliteration) by Jewish scholars, died in Marrakesh on this date in 1198. Averroes was a key figure in the transitional period in which science and […]

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Maimonides for the 21st Century

EVALUATING THE RAMBAM’S VIEW OF A JUST SOCIETY by Rabbi Reba Carmel From the Autumn 2016 issue of Jewish Currents. Discussed in this essay: Maimonides and the Book that Changed Judaism: Secrets of The Guide for the Perplexed, by Micah Goodman. University of Nebraska Press, 2015, 296 pages. “GOD IS THE GREATEST THREAT to religion.” […]

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October 11: Jews of Aleppo

A massive earthquake, one of the most destructive in history, struck Aleppo in northern Syria on this date in 1138, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths in a region already suffering through ongoing wars between Christian Crusader and Muslim forces. Aleppo had one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities; Jewish tradition dates it to […]

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The Talmud’s Atheist

by Lawrence Bush ONE SABBATH AFTERNOON, some two thousand years ago, Rabbi Elisha ben Avuyah was studying Torah when he looked up and saw a man climbing a palm tree. The fellow had apparently spotted some birds’ nests and was breaking the sabbath law to raid them. He seized both a fledgling and its mother […]

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September 6: Halakha for the Masses

Propelled by the calamitous exile of the Jews from Spain and Portugal, 1492-1497, Rabbi Yosef Karo began writing his voluminous commentary on Jewish law, Beit Yosef (House of Joseph) on this date in 1522, according to Hasidic sources. This conservationist writing project began when he was 34 and took twenty years to complete. Karo (1488-1575) […]

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April 3: Joseph Karo and the Shulkhan Arukh

Rabbi Joseph Karo, who wrote the Shulkhan Arukh (“The Set Table”), the most influential codification of Jewish law to date, is thought to have died at 87 in Sfat on this date in 1575. Karo was a child refugee from Spain following the 1492 expulsion. His family settled in Ottoman-ruled Bulgaria, and Karo eventually moved […]

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