Author Archives: Francis Nataf

Rabbi Francis Nataf is a Jerusalem-based educator and thinker. His most recent book is Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Leviticus.

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l and the Torah World

by R. Francis Nataf How does one identify one’s community? Today, the obvious answer to this today is which one? We are all members of what sociologists call overlapping communities: our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our synagogues, our families (nuclear and extended), our interest groups, etc. While all of these groupings define who we are, some define us more than others. ...

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Ownership, Hubris and the Sacrificial Conundrum III

by R. Francis Nataf, part 3 of 3 (continued from part 1, part 2), excerpted from the forthcoming book, Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Leviticus. Get more information about the publication here.   Part 3: Dr. Frankenstein’s Chametz If there is no true parallel to our essential connection to our children, there are things that bear the stamp of our unique ...

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Ownership, Hubris and the Sacrificial Conundrum II

by R. Francis Nataf, part 2 of 3 (continued from part 1), excerpted from the forthcoming book, Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Leviticus. Get more information about the publication here.   Part 2: From an Event to a Practice If Kayin’s jump from the idea of gifting to man to the idea of gifting to God was a major step, no ...

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Ownership, Hubris and the Sacrificial Conundrum

by R. Francis Nataf, part 1 of 3, excerpted from the forthcoming book, Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Leviticus. Get more information about the publication here.   If the Book of Vayikra is difficult in general, there are some themes especially so. And somewhere near – or even at – the top of the list is the topic of sacrifices. There ...

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A Nation of Pirates

by R. Francis Nataf This essay is excerpted from Rabbi Nataf’s forthcoming Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Deuteronomy: Explorations in Text and Meaning. From the text it is not so clear why such harsh treatment is reserved uniquely for Amalek. 1)See Ramban, Shemot 17:16. Why is this nation considered worse than the Egyptians, who afflicted the Jews for hundreds ...

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Why Weren’t the Non-Jews Under the Mountain?

by R. Francis Nataf Judging from the sources in the Talmud, there is more than a tinge of ambivalence about the non-Jews being left out of Matan Torah. Though the Talmud was written in the context of a nascent Christianity that preached a gospel to all men, it was likely more than this that prompted the rabbis to justify the ...

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Zachor VeShamor – What’s the Problem?

by R. Francis Nataf It is often said that within the Aseret HaDiberot lay many of the foundations of the Jewish religion, and of ethical monotheism more generally. While that is no doubt true about the content and even its delivery, it may be surprisingly true about the form in which it was delivered as well. I. In One Statement ...

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Shimshon and the Gates of Chevron

Shimshon and the Gates of Chevron The Tanakh’s Tribal Motifs by R. Francis Nataf I. Perspectives and Parshanut A student once asked me whether there was really anything new to write about Tanakh, given all of the great minds that devoted so much time to it over so many years. Yet in spite of the question’s logic, anyone who reads ...

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How Many Moshes Can There Be?

How Many Moshes Can There Be? – On Machloket in Parshanut by Francis Nataf Was Moshe a great leader? Many readers assume he must have been but a simple reading of the text can show that this great teacher and prophet suffered many leadership setbacks in the desert. In his recent book, Moses and the Path to Leadership, R. Zvi ...

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back? The State of Contemporary Orthodox Bible Study by Francis Nataf It will soon mark a decade since I began my Redeeming Relevance series. When I started, I bemoaned the decline of traditional Jewish Bible commentary in the twentieth century. I complained that what was being written was either too scholarly or too flighty. There ...

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