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An even worse mess

On the Seventeenth of Tammuz, we began the period known as the Three Weeks that culminate in the fast of the Ninth of Av ( this coming Wednesday night). After Yom Kippur, it is the most significant of our fasts.  Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed twice, first by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and then by the Romans in 70…

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Women rabbis

The issue of women rabbis in Orthodox Judaism has come to the fore again. This time, it has come through a petition before the Israeli Supreme Court on sexual discrimination in religious affairs. https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/07/05/chief-rabbinate-threatens-ordaining-strike-if-forced-to-train-women/. This is interesting when considering the US Supreme Court has just declared the State should not interfere or impose its value systems on religious communities. But,…

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What a mess we made!

The Fast of the Seventeenth of Tammuz we have just passed, initiates a three-week period of mourning for the loss, twice, of Jerusalem and the Temple. The official rabbinic reason for the disasters given in the Talmud is┬áSinat Chinam.┬áNeedless hatred. Internal divisions and antagonism, amongst Jews. Sadly we have always been very good at that from Abraham onwards. Looking around…

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Statues and Idols

All of a sudden it has become fashionable in the USA to take down or demolish statues. There is a case to be made that none of them should have been put up in the first place. The earliest statues we have discovered were of what we call pagan gods. The oldest is a fertility figurine discovered in Northern Israel…

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More on Prayer

We are living in a fraught, unpredictable world of conflicting values and policies.  So I am returning to an earlier post about prayer. What an escape prayer can be. But that does not mean that if you choose to follow the traditional liturgy, there are no questions or tensions there, too. Public prayer, in traditional Jewish terms, is poetry and song…

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Wellesley Tudor Pole

Plagues often bring out the soothsayers and those who predict the end of days. Why else is Nostradamus still popular? Every culture has its unusual characters who see things ordinary mortals do not. Our own wise fools like to examine our holy texts for proof that the bible predicted all this.    England too has a long tradition of eccentrics –…

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