Humanistic Sources of Jewish Law

A TORAH COMMENTARY by David Micah Greenberg   THE REVELATION at Sinai is the subject of the approaching Torah portion, Yitro (“Jethro,” Exodus 18:1-20:23, read in synagogue on February 3rd this year). But the book starts with the story of Jethro, a priest of Midian and Moses’ father-in-law from his years of exile in that land, who […]

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O My America: What the Redwood Said

For Tu B’Shvat 2018, The New Year of the Trees by Lawrence Bush When God created Adam, God led him around the Garden of Eden and said to him: “Behold my works. See how wonderful and beautiful they are. All that I have created, for your sake did I create it. Now see to it […]

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MIDRASH: The Stories We Tell

WHY THE TORAH REMAINS AN OPEN BOOK by Reba Carmel   Moses received the Torah at Sinai and he transmitted it to Joshua,  and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly . . . [who] said three maxims: Be measured […]

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February 16: Tsu Gesundt!

Pope Gregory is said to have declared on this date in 600 (though some say February 6) that “God bless you” is an appropriate response to a sneeze. According to the History Channel, “Gregory the Great . . . assumed the papacy in 590, at a time when the bubonic plague was raging through Europe. […]

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June 23: Noah’s Ark

According to religious sources that believe the Earth to be only 5,776 years old, today marks the date in 2105 BCE when Noah’s Ark lodged on the still-flooded summit of Mount Ararat in Armenia. Current projects to save species from global climate change and other sources of habitat destruction include The Frozen Ark, a consortium […]

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Muriel’s Gift

Rukeyser’s Poems on Jewish Themes by Helen Engelhardt From the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Currents To be a Jew in the twentieth century Is to be offered a gift. SO BEGINS the most well-known and beloved of the poems written by Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), who was astonished when the Reform synagogue movement included it […]

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February 26: The Birth and Death of Moses

According to classical Biblical reckoning, as calculated by the Lubavitcher Hasidim, Moses the son of Yocheved was born into slavery on this date in 1393 BCE and died on this date 120 years later. Moses is the dominant human figure of the Torah: liberator of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, leader and miracle-worker during their […]

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July 15: Smashing Tablets

Traditionally observant Jews will be fasting today: The Fast of Tammuz, which takes place three weeks before Tisha B’Av, commemorates the date (by biblical calculation) on which Moses, in 1313 BCE, descended from Mount Sinai, saw the idolatrous worship of the Golden Calf, and smashed the Tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. The Fast of […]

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Daughters and Fathers at Passover Time

by Susan Reimer-Torn A watercolor entitled Father and Daughter, painted in Poland in 1876, fills me with bittersweet longing. It was painted by a 21-year-old Maurycy Gottlieb just two years before the promising young man’s untimely death. (I wonder if that accounts for its intimation of inevitable parting.) A bearded patriarch is embracing a pre-adolescent […]

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