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By Rabbi William Friedman | Co-Director and Rosh Yeshivah, Nishma: A Summer of Torah Study in the JTS Beit Midrash

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In Parashat Yitro, the command to “remember” Shabbat (Exod. 20:8) is observed in order to recognize the eternal sanctity of the day on which God rested on the seventh day of Creation. This command is recapitulated in Deuteronomy with significant revision: the Israelites are to “observe” Shabbat (Deut. 5:12) in order to ensure that slaves (i.e., workers) are given an opportunity for rest. What are we to make of these dual aspects of Shabbat, one in which we reenact God’s primordial resting; the other in which we attempt to achieve a measure of protection for the economically vulnerable?

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Listen to the students of the H. L. Miller Cantorial School sing the opening verses of the Song at the Sea.

The centerpiece of Parashat Beshallah is the Song at the Sea. The song gives this Shabbat on which it is read the name Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song. It is interesting to note that this is the first recorded instance in the Torah where praise of God is specifically sung rather than spoken. Dr. Joseph H.

By Rabbi Noah Bickart | Adjunct Instructor of Talmud and Principal, Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School, JTS

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Joyce’s Ulysses is the only text that rivals the Babylonian Talmud in both its complexity and its stream-of-consciousness–style, jumping from topic to topic. In many ways, Joyce designed his masterpiece to be a Jewish book. Its main character, Leopold Bloom, was modeled on the assimilated Jews who were Joyce’s companions in his exile from Dublin in Paris, Zurich, and Trieste. In the book, Joyce’s characters quote the Bible frequently, sometimes even in Hebrew.

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This panel, featuring Daniel Jones, editor of "Modern Love," Dr. Mona Fishbane, couple therapy specialist, and Rabbi Aaron Brusso of Bet Torah, Mount Kisco, New York, focuses on the challenges within contemporary marriages and relationships in our society and particularly in the Jewish community. Rabbi Mychal Springer, Helen Fried Kirshblum Goldstein Chair in Professional and Pastoral Skills and director of the Center for Pastoral Education at JTS, moderates.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

 

KIVUNIM is a program for Jewish youth exploring the cultures of Jews around the world

 

 

By Dr. Jonathan Milgram | Assistant Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics

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When the end of the week arrives and we settle into our Friday night routine of rituals, I often try to encapsulate in a few short sentences what I think is the main thought or idea in the parashah so that my children leave the table with a “takeaway” lesson.

By Rabbi Noah Bickart | Adjunct Instructor of Talmud and Principal, Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School, JTS

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The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling, a rash, or a discoloration, and it develops into a scaly affection on the skin of his body, it shall be reported to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons, the priests. The priest shall examine the affection on the skin of his body: if hair in the affected patch has turned white and the affection appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous affection; when the priest sees it, he shall pronounce him unclean.

By Rabbi Danielle Upbin | Kollot Rabbinic Fellow, Florida Region, JTS

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When my husband and I named our first son Nadav, we knew that we would have some explaining to do. On one side, we had friends and family who had never heard of the name and had trouble pronouncing it. On the other, more knowledgeable folks questioned us for naming our son after a biblical character who “clearly” perished for wrongdoing. Our intentions, we explained, were quite good. The name Nadav was rooted in the Torah portion of the week in which he was born.

By Professor Arnold M. Eisen | Chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary

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I received a valuable insight into this week’s Torah portion over lunch one day about 20 years ago at the Stanford University Humanities Center. Across the table sat a female professor from China, newly arrived on her first visit to America. I was the first Jew she had ever met, and at some point the conversation shifted from the books we were writing to how Judaism differed from other faith traditions and communities in America. That’s when she startled me with an observation I shall never forget. “You can’t be significantly different from anyone else in this country.

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