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.
On Purim, we are rightly appalled by the fact that Haman wanted to destroy the Jewish people. Yet we seldom notice that we were commanded to do the very same thing to Haman’s people, to Amalek, in Exodus 17, which we read on Purim morning, and Deutoronomy 25, which we read on Shabbat Zakhor.
Dr. Tamar Kadari, Dean of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and lecturer for Midrash and Aggadah, grounds the often inaccessible stories of sacrifice in reality. She tells an insightful story of when King Agrippa demanded to have exclusive rights to bring sacrifices to God at the Temple.
Dr. Shula Laderman, draws comparisons between the Israelites giving gifts. First there is the problematic giving of gold and silver for the construction of the golden calf. Then in Vayakhel there is the redemptive giving of gold, silver and mirrors for the construction of the Tabernacle and the laver, a basin used for ritual washing.