Dr Ari Ackerman, points out the fundamental differences between two types of commandments. On one hand we have commandments with rational explanations, and on the other, we have commandments with unclear, hidden rationales.
Dr. Tamar Kadari, Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and lecturer for Midrash and Aggadah, tells the story of Yehoshua bar Chananya who asked: “Where is God during times of trouble?”
Dr. Shula Laderman, discusses the strange story of the talking donkey. Her commentary is accompanied by a painting from the renowned artist Avner Moriah. What happens when a sorcerer, a king and a donkey take center stage?
When it comes to educating students, teacher often ask which is more persuasive: the carrot or the stick? Was the the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai really frightening or a was it a loving moment?
Dr. Gila Vachman, lecturer in Midrash and Aggadah, sheds light on this sensitive issue. The Kohanim who were physically “blemished,” actually received symbolic tasks within the temple rituals.
Rabbi Professor David Golinkin, discusses the connection between the rituals of the ancient Greek symposium and many of the Seder rituals. Jewish communities throughout the generations did not live in vacuums; they absorbed much from their surroundings. generations did not live in vacuums; they absorbed much from their surroundings. Yet they did not absorb other people’s traditions indiscriminately. What can we learn from all these parallels?
Question from Rabbi Steve Morgen, Houston, Texas: There is a widespread custom to kiss one’s tzitzit three times during the recitation of the third paragraph of the Shema, upon pronouncing the word emet immediately after the end of Shema, and again upon pronouncing the word la’ad. On the other hand, there are renowned rabbis such as the Vilna Gaon and Rabbi Prof. Saul Lieberman who did not kiss their tzitzit at all. What are the sources and approaches regarding these customs?
Parashat Metzora, the skin disease leprosy is not treated as a sin, but rather as an example of impurity which has to be treated, fought against and repaired. What does this teach us about how we approach illness and suffering
We are blessed to be living in a time where an overwhelming number of Jews are able to celebrate Jewish holidays proudly and openly. Professor Renée Levine Melammed takes us back to Spain post-1492, and looks at how the Crypto-Jews there celebrated the Jewish holidays.