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Jewish Thought

Jewish Thought

By Rabbi Robert Harris | Associate Professor of Bible

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This week’s parashah contains some of the most memorable narratives in the entire Torah: the splitting of the Reed Sea, the miracle of the manna, the battle with Amalek. In the midst of all these narratives comes a pithily told “little tale”:

Then Moses caused Israel to set out from the Sea of Reeds. They went on into the wilderness of Shur; they traveled three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 They came to Marah, but they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; that is why it was named Marah.

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

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Rabbi David Hartman, in his book A Heart of Many Rooms, cites a midrash that draws a clear and (to my mind) profound connection between a major episode in this week's Torah portion and the Revelation at Sinai that follows next week.

Said R. Jose bar R. Hanina, "The Divine Word spoke to each and every person according to his/her particular capacity . . . Now if each and every person was enabled to taste the manna according to his/her particular capacity, how much more and more was each and every person enabled according to his/her particular capacity to hear the Divine Word."

I'd like to

By Dr. Yonatan Y. Brafman | Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought, JTS

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After the heights of the revelation at Sinai, Parashat Mishpatim settles down to more mundane topics, including a lengthy discussion of torts. Perhaps motivated by this sudden change of altitude, Nahmanides interprets these details as expansions on the Ten Commandments, such as the prohibitions on coveting and theft: “For if a man does not know the laws of the house and field or other possessions, he might think that they belong to him and thus covet them and take them for himself” (Ramban: Commentary on the Torah. Exodus, translated by Charles Chavel, 338–339).

Viewed through lens of H.L.A

By Dr. Eitan Fishbane | Associate Professor of Jewish Thought

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It is in the wilderness that the voice of God calls out to Moses—in the desert, in the vast expanse of nature’s simplicity: it is amid the solitude of the shepherd, the contemplative soul, the man haunted by the shadows of his past. The miraculous burning bush, unconsumed—mystery and marvel in that desert terrain, the supernatural wonder erupting within the ordinary. Here natural space is transfigured in revelation; the mundane recast as the Indwelling of Divinity.

“Remove your sandals from your feet,” God says to Moses, “for the place on which you stand is holy ground.” It is sacred as the

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

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Shortly after Jacob arrives in Egypt Joseph—undoubtedly eager to introduce his father and his patron to each other—arranges an audience with Pharaoh for his father. Following the time honored traditions of polite conversation, Pharaoh asks a prosaic question: “How many are the years of your life?” (Gen.

By Michael R. Boino | Student, The Rabbinical School, JTS

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Richard Newman, tenor
Joyce L. Rosenzweig, Adjunct instructor of Music, JTS, piano
Michael R. Boino, Composer 
 
In Joseph’s Feast, Joseph struggles with his family trauma as well as his desire for familial love. The title as well as some of the content of the poem alludes to Belshazzar’s feast as told in the Book of Daniel (Chapter Five). 
 
Joseph’s Feast
When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his house steward, “Take the men into the house; slaughter and prepare an animal, for the men will dine with me at noon.” –Genesis 43:16
 
I can hear right through you
right through your

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It is notoriously difficult to change well ensconced opinions in the scholarly field of Jewish studies—let alone one as critical as the image of God.

Dr. Yair Lorberbaum offers a compelling and convincing thesis regarding the unique way the image of God was understood during the classical rabbinic period.

 

Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS, will serve as moderator.

 

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Much of the scholarship on the Books of Kings has focused on questions of the historicity of the events described. Dr. Alison L. Joseph, however, turns her attention to the literary characterization of the kings. By examining the narrative techniques used in the Deuteronomistic History, Dr. Joseph shows that the Deuteronomist in the days of the Josianic Reform constructed David as a model of adherence to the covenant and Jeroboam, conversely, as the ideal opposite of David. The result is a deepened understanding of the worldview and theology of the Deuteronomistic historians.

By Blu Greenberg | Founding President, Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance

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In the mid-90s, Bill Moyers of the eponymous television show invited viewers to watch Genesis: A Living Conversation, the 10 part series he conducted with Bible scholars, writers, psychologists, lawyers, artists, and communal and religious leaders of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

By Rabbi Leonard A. Sharzer, MD | Associate Director for Bioethics of the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, JTS

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Can there be anything left to say about the Akedah, perhaps the most discussed and analyzed story in the Torah? Clearly if this were simply the story of an old man who hears voices and travels to a nearby mountain with his son in order to kill him there, and who, at the last moment, sees a ram and kills it instead, we would not still be fascinated talking about the story more than two millennia later. No, this is an allegory. . . and therein lies it survival and its power, and our task is to find meaning in the story for ourselves and for our lives.

My initial reaction after hearing the story

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