Skip directly to content

Holidays

Holidays

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

posted

The Sabbath preceding Passover, Shabbat Hagadol (The Great Sabbath), takes its name from a passage in the haftarah that is chanted in synagogue that morning. "Behold," we read from the book of Malachi, "I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord." Malachi is referring to the ultimate redemption of humanity, to which we look forward at Passover. We place a cup of wine for Elijah on the seder table in expectation of his arrival, and even open the door to greet him and the redemption he portends.

The verse in the haftarah that I find most

By Rabbi Eliezer Diamond | Rabbi Judah Nadich Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics

posted

The first teaching attributed to Hillel in Tractate Avot is the following: "Be one of Aaron's disciples, one who loves peace and pursues it, one who loves one's fellow human beings and brings them near to the Torah." It is not hard to understand what it means to love peace; how does one pursue peace? The rabbinic work known as the Fathers According to Rabbi Nathan, a sort of early commentary to Avot, gives as an example an instance where two people were not speaking to each other as the result of a dispute.

Aaron would go to one of the two and say, "Why are you angry with your friend?

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

posted

My personal preparation for Passover has for several years included conversations with teens and college students about what the holiday means to them and their families. My informants this year—a small and wholly unscientific sample of students at JTS’s Prozdor high school program—told me the same thing I have heard in previous years about the way their families celebrate the holiday: that the highlight of the seder is that it is held rather than what is said around the table. The family gathers, which is great; the family exhibits all its trademark affection, tensions, and mishegas, which

By

posted

in

אסתר ד:יד
כִּי אִם-הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת רֶוַח וְהַצָּלָה יַעֲמוֹד לַיְּהוּדִים מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר וְאַתְּ וּבֵית-אָבִיךְ תֹּאבֵדוּ וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ אִם-לְעֵת כָּזֹאת הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת:

 

Esther 4:14
For if you stay silent at this time, then relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish; and who knows if you have come to royalty for such a time as this?

By Rabbi Jan Uhrbach | Director of Liturgical Arts, JTS

posted

The Shabbat prior to Purim, known as Shabbat Zakhor, takes its name from the first word of the special maftir (additional Torah reading) for the day, which retells the story of the first post-enslavement attack against the newly freed Israelites:

Remember (zakhor) what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt . . . You shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget! (Deuteronomy 25:17-19)

We read the underlying narrative, Exodus 17:8–16, on Purim day.

The link with Purim is Haman, a descendant of Amalek genetically and more importantly characterologically:

posted

Strikingly, Moses is barely mentioned in the text of the Haggadah, despite his prominence in the Torah’s account of the Exodus that begins with this week’s parashah. He is, however, prominently featured in some editions via the illustrations. These two images depicting scenes in Moses’s life as found in Parashat Shemot are from the Amsterdam Haggadah of 1695. This Haggadah’s illustrations were “copied and imitated more than those of any other Haggadah in history” (Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Haggadah and History, plate 59).

The images, ironically, were copies and adaptations of a Christian work:

Pages