Magazine

Audio Roundup

Best answer I got to the question, If Orthodoxy rearranged itself so you had to choose between either a YCT or Bnei Braq Orthodoxy, where would you go? Down into the bunker! Does your adult education programming include discussions amongst speakers who may disagree on a topic or is it always a single viewpoint presented? Melvyn Bragg, Jonathan Rée, John ...

Read More »

Vort from the Rav: Miketz

Genesis 41:1 וְהִנֵה עמֵֹד עַל־הַיְאַֽרֹ and behold, he was standing by the Nile The preposition עַל has the connotation of nearness, proximity. There is another meaning, however. עמֵֹד עַל is a biblical idiom, as in: וְהִנֵה ה’ֹ נִצָב עָלָיו – And behold, the Lord was standing over him (Gen 28:13), that is, paying special attention to him (Rashi). The word ...

Read More »

Pharaoh’s Birthday and Yosef’s Historicity

I. Anachronism The surprising celebration of Pharaoh’s birthday (Gen. 40:20) is unique in the Bible and raises questions about Yosef’s place in history. Perhaps it can be explained by a Mishnaic redundancy. The butler (sar ha-mashkim, minister of beverages) is released from prison for Pharaoh’s birthday, fulfilling the butler’s dream as Yosef had interpreted it. Two years later, when Pharaoh ...

Read More »

Anwar Sadat Visits Israel

In November of 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat flew to Israel to address the Knesset. His meeting with his former enemy Prime Minister Menachem Begin ultimately resulted in the sometimes strained but nevertheless enduring Israel-Egypt peace accord, but his unpopularity with hardline Egyptians, opposed to making peace with Israel, resulted in his assassination in 1981.

Read More »

Audio Roundup

Rav Soloveitchik (in Community, Covenant & Commitment, pp. 133-136) gives three reasons for his psak that one should stay home and not hear the shofar rather than going to a shofar blowing in a mixed sex crowd: The sanctity of the Synagogue prohibits mingling (thus any prayers therein are worthless) Separation was a hallmark of Jewish practice that differentiated us ...

Read More »

Vort from the Rav: Vayeishev

Bereishis 41:73 וַיִשְלָחֵהו מֵעֵמֶק חֶבְרוֹן So he sent him from the valley of Hebron. Rashi comments on this verse, – But Hebron is on a mountain! The valley of Hebron alludes to the profound counsel, עֵצָה עַמוקָה, of the righteous one [Abraham] who is buried in Hebron to fulfill that which God told Abraham in the Bris Bein Habesarim: You ...

Read More »

Unity Versus Unilateralism

Below is my op-ed in the current issue of the Forward (link). Note that the picture of Chasidim on the website is misleading because this is discussing a letter by rabbis who are members of, or identify with, the RCA. I have instead used here a picture of the Public Forum of the 2011 RCA Convention (click to enlarge), which ...

Read More »

Yosef’s Sale and Biblical Critics

The idea that the Torah is composed of multiple competing and contradictory manuscripts dominates the academic landscape. However, sometimes the proof–as much as can ever be proven with the weak tools of literary analysis–is shakier than is commonly taught. At times, even some of the critics agree that there really is no proof to the deconstruction of the text. One ...

Read More »

Changing the World with Evocative Acts

Praying Opposite His Wife Biblical stories of miracles teach us not only how Hashem changes nature but also how people do it. Last time, we saw that Ran thought that Ya’akov and Esav’s differences showed that Rivkah’s pregnancy wasn’t itself fully natural. As the derasha continues, he raises another unnatural aspect of the pregnancy. Rivkah, in his view, was completely ...

Read More »

Jacob Frank and the Burning of the Talmud

One of the more colorful false messiahs in Jewish history, Jacob Frank made a career of conversion–first to Islam, then to Christianity, all the while leading a neo-Sabbatean movement that emphasized antinomian “purification through transgression.” His appeal to the Church in 1757 resulted in a modern-day disputation over the Talmud, and ultimately the burning of tens of thousands of precious ...

Read More »