Author Archives: Jeffrey Saks

Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding director of ATID. His frequent lectures at the Agnon House in Jerusalem are broadcast on WebYeshiva.org/Agnon.

Tolkien and the Jews

by R. Jeffrey Saks With the recent release of the final Hobbit movie, we are republishing this 2013 essay With the release of the first installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit film trilogy, diehard Middle Earth fans and movie-goers worldwide are reveling in the experience of entering J.R.R. Tolkien’s fully realized world, despite the critical panning the movie has received. ...

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The Language of Babel

by R. Jeffrey Saks, in Rav Shalom Bayanikh: Essays Presented to Rabbi Shalom Carmy by Friends and Students in Celebration of Forty Years of Teaching (eds. R. Hayyim Angel and R. Yitzchak Blau), posted here with permission. The story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), so familiar to us that we may neglect to read it carefully, is notable ...

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Tolkien and the Jews

R Jeffrey Saks / With the release of the first installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit film trilogy, diehard Middle Earth fans and movie-goers worldwide are reveling in the experience of entering J.R.R. Tolkien’s fully realized world, despite the critical panning the movie has received. Ever curious if Hobbits are good for the Jews, writers have been examining the canon of Tolkien’s work with Talmudic precision for Jewish connections – to clarify some mistaken or imprecise reporting we present or revisit some of the interesting Jewish connections in Tolkien’s Middle Earth and in the stories behind it…

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Ray Bradbury and Jewish Education in the Internet Era

R Jeffrey Saks / The news that science fiction author Ray Bradbury died yesterday at age 91 was a moment of pause and reflection for me. Not that I was such a huge Bradbury fan, or even a reader of sci-fi in general (despite having been a bookish kid, and a devoted Trekkie). In fact, aside from a few short stories I can’t otherwise recall, the only thing I had every seriously read of Bradbury’s was Fahrenheit 451 – and that as a ninth grader in 1984. Perhaps some curriculum planner noting the year decided freshman lit should cover the dystopian novels, starting with Orwell’s foreboding prophecy about the year we were living through. Perhaps it was because the Cold War was not yet over, and the cautionary tales of Animal Farm and the like were part of our indoctrination against anti-American worldviews.

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Shlissel Challah

Guest post by R. Jeffrey Saks / The custom some women (or men) have of baking the house key into the challah on the Shabbat following Pesach (also known as a shlissel [=key] challah) is explained with the following reasons:

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