Category Archives: Torah
Slaves or slave-owners?
The Jerusalem Talmud often surprises us. At Passover it’s no different: an extraordinary comment there over-turns our self-image as “slaves in Egypt” and reminds us that we might have been slave-owners there too. In this reading, Passover commemorates not only … Continue reading
Aliyot for women in an orthodox setting?
Last year, members of many orthodox synagogues in the UK created “partnership minyanim” in which women as well as men read from the Torah and were called up. Surprisingly, the classic rabbinic sources are more open to this practice than … Continue reading
On Israel’s 65th Birthday
Soon after the creation of the state, Rav Soloveitchik wrote an essay called Kol Dodi Dofek. The title means “The voice of my lover knocks”. The Rav is referring to the beloved of Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs. The … Continue reading
Innovation and Change in Jewish Thought, from an 18th Century Rabbinic Leader
Innovation. Development. Human intelligence. Human error. How important are these to Jewish thought and practice? According to Rabbi Arieh Leib Heller, one of the foremost rabbinic authorities of 18th century Poland, they are essential: intrinsic to the Jewish people and … Continue reading
Relations with the enemy
Jewish thought usually takes care not to demonize enemies. But Purim might be an exception. The rabbis connect Haman, the villain, with Amalek, a destructive nation whom we are commanded to exterminate. Our relationship with Amalek is close to a … Continue reading
May Anyone Serve?
What kind of person is qualified to serve in the army? What qualities should a soldier have? Rabbi Yossi the Galilean, writing nearly two thousand years ago on this week’s Torah portion, gives us a surprising answer to this question. … Continue reading