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Shemini

April 14, 2017

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At this sacred season of re-consecration to recollection, we are poised between Yom Hashoah’s monumental burden of sorrow and Yom Ha’ Atzmaout’s transforming joy. We pause at this great twilight oscillating between the helplessness of Yeoush’s despair and Hatikvah’s hopefulness of Yeshua’s salvation. We turn to the Torah’s Book of Life that we may face [...]

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Oh the Times, They Were a Changin’… How the rabbis invented our seder

March 31, 2017

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Passover in the time of Deuteronomy: What a spectacle! We all got up and made pilgrimage to Jerusalem, pitching our tents on the surrounding hills. The priest helped us accomplish our lamb sacrifice, which we enjoyed in the evening cool of Nisan. It was a peak experience, away from home and its leveling routines. Alas, [...]

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Purim and Iran’s contemporary plot

March 6, 2017

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Purim’s extraordinary fun masks and matches the extraordinary seriousness of the life and death issues behind it, while allowing for the healthy release of pent-up tension and emotion. After all, a threat of genocide hanging over a vulnerable people such as the Jews with a plot in place to terminate its existence in the vast [...]

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With full Talmud translation, online library hopes to make sages accessible

February 10, 2017

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NEW YORK (JTA)—For centuries, studying a page of the Talmud has come with a bevy of barriers to entry. Written mostly in Aramaic, the Talmud in its most commonly printed form also lacks punctuation or vowels, let alone translation. Its premier explanatory commentary, composed by the medieval sage Rashi, is usually printed in an obscure [...]

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What was Pharaoh thinking?

January 30, 2017

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It’s interesting to reflect on the Torah portion, Parshat Bo, while reading Alan Morinis’s book, Everyday Holiness, in preparation for Tidewater Together. This year, the series of programs focuses on the theory and practice of mussar, a 200-year-old system of Jewish teachings. Morinis, who will speak at each Tidewater Together event, posits that people can [...]

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Joseph inspires to make a difference

January 16, 2017

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The great and most colorful Joseph saga extends over four Torah portions and 13 chapters. Just like Joseph, the dreamer and interpreter of incredible dreams (he should have kept some of them to himself!), the Jewish people have believed that noble, as well as disturbing dreams have the potential and power to transform reality. In [...]

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Clarity of vision

December 21, 2016

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Pharaoh dreamed two dreams. In the first, he was standing on the river Nile. He watched as seven skinny cows consumed seven stout ones. It was a dream, but it was Pharaoh’s type of dream. It was about him and he was the focal character. Pharaoh liked that. He turned over and went back to [...]

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A celebration of religious freedom

December 5, 2016

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Hanukkah’s origins in the drama of a small, yet determined people with a large vision standing up to the might of the Hellenistic empire of antiquity, is a poignant demonstration and a timeless reminder of Israel’s unique and timely legacy. The heroic Maccabees’ successful revolt of the few against the many in 167 B.C.E. following [...]

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A Jew is a Jew, whether Red or Blue

November 21, 2016

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“Abraham was old, advanced in years. The LORD had blessed Abraham in all [things].—The Numerological equivalent of the word “all” is 52, [meaning] “son”. Inasmuch as Abraham had a son [Isaac], it was necessary to arrange for him to marry.”—Rashi, commentary to Genesis 24:1 “The [Rabbinic] schools of Hillel and Shammai debated each other for [...]

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Lech-Lecha (Genesis 12:1–17:27)

November 10, 2016

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Noah was destined to be neither the father of the Jewish people nor the founder of our faith. Though the most righteous one in his corrupt generation, he failed to reach out and save human lives besides those of his family. Thus, the rabbis who were aware of Noah’s disturbing limitations in the terse, yet [...]

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