General Topics

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a festival that records a group of settlers in America surviving a very brutal winter. Some argue that these settlers brought tremendous suffering to the indigenous peoples, and therefore this celebration should now be banned. I argue that, even so, Thanksgiving can still offer an important message and should not be scrapped. Last month Columbus Day was the…

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Rabbi Mickey Rosen

This week is the secular date of my younger brother’s death. Sibling rivalry goes all the way back to Cain and Abel. As a two-year-old, I resented the arrival of my brother Michael, Mickey, as a rival for our parents’ love. Now, Mickey turned out to be such a goodnatured, honest child that the only way I felt I could…

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Italian Talmud

The Talmud is the most defining text of Judaism as it is today—in a way, even more so than the Bible, even though without the Bible there would be no Talmud. The Bible is shared with Christianity and, in a very indirect way, with Islam. In the case of Christianity, the Old Testament has been superseded by the New. Although…

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From Martin Luther to Arthur Balfour

Many Christians celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31. In 1517 the Augustinian monk Martin Luther (1483-1546) posted his 95 theses in opposition to the abuses of the Catholic Church on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, which ultimately led to the split between the Catholic and Protestant churches. Luther objected initially to what he saw as the…

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Articles & Essays

Shavuot and Chaos Theory

ACCEPTING THE TORAH THROUGH THE PRISM OF CHAOS THEORY: A DEVAR TORAH FOR SHAVUOT Introduction Plato’s theory of ideas, and Aristotle’s more empirical approach, are the foundations of the Western intellectual tradition.1 Both wanted to achieve an ideal understanding, categorization and explanation of the world we inhabit and our position as humans within it. These intellectual giants have influenced Jewish…

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Articles & Essays

Ecclesiastes and Self Help

A recent need for self criticism and introspection drew me back to one of my favorite biblical books: Ecclesiastes (Kohelet). Traditionally it is attributed to King Solomon. Like all the books of the bible there is much debate about its origin, date and author. But I find it an amazing short book for lots of reasons, not least because it…

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