Jacob is blessed with many children but is it too much of a good thing? Using an example of the midrashic technique of notarikon – rearranging or deriving meaning from the individual letters of a word – Tamar Kadari, Senior Lecturer in Midrash, teaches how Joseph’s famous (technicolor dream) coat ended up becoming a source of division in his family.
Israel’s holy sites have been a destination for pilgrims of many faiths. This week, when we read Parshat Vayishlach, Professor Doron Bar, President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, shares the stories of two pilgrims to Rachel’s Tomb.
Is Jacob caught in a dream or in reality in Parshat Vayetze? Dr. Shula Laderman, lecturer in Judaism and the Arts, collaborated with world renowned artist, Avner Moriah, to create The Illuminated Torah, a collection of 54 paintings representing each of the weekly Torah portions. How do the colors in the painting and the position of the ladder influence our understanding of Jacob’s dream?
Does Esau get a bad rap? Through his unique lens of evolutionary psychology, Rabbi Dr. Paul Shrell-Fox, Lecture in Family and Community Studies, explores the different personalities of Esau and Jacob. How much do nature and nurture influence their wildly different personalities?
Do women have the right to choose? Inspired by Parshat Chayei Sara, Dr. Bat-Sheva Margalit Stern, associate professor of Jewish history, explains the immense pressure women faced from the Zionist establishment.
No one would deny that engaging with Jewish content in non-religious public schools is fraught with challenges including the allocation of financial resources to Orthodox religious organizations that have infiltrated the system, and at times, objectionable material in their textbooks. Although the Secular Forum shares the credit for exposing some of these failings, its main work is now in fueling an extremist, inflammatory campaign aimed at re-igniting the “Jewish-Israeli conflict” by arousing secular passions against Jewish culture in the state of Israel.
In this week’s Torah portion, Vayera, it is many years later. Abraham and Sarah live in Hebron, about 40 miles South of Jerusalem, when he is called with the same words “Lech Lecha”, but this time he is told exactly where he is going and why – to the Land of Moriah, the same spot where the Temple and Dome of the Rock would later be built, to sacrifice his son Isaac. The journey that began years earlier for Abraham’s benefit is ominously transformed, and the extra, emphatic word, “Lecha” has a different meaning. Abraham is told to look into himself in order to summon the strength for this final test.
Why Abraham? In Parshat Lech Lecha God appoints Abraham to be the leader of nations. What made Abraham stand out? While on a trip to Italy, Dr. Paul Mandel, Senior Lecturer in Midrash and Aggadah, saw an ancient building that reminded him of a rabbinic parable where Abraham witnesses a building burning. With all the terrible things occurring in the world who will put out the flames? Find out how Abraham responded.
Does God make mistakes? In Parshat Noah, the flood confronts us with a disturbing story of God destroying the world. Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch, Dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, explores that something that seems so wrong impacts our reading of the Torah text.
There are probably numerous reasons people have for coming to shul for Kol Nidre, not least as stated in the prayers themselves: “We sanction prayer with the transgressors.” This phrase reflects the encounter of Jewish men and women who, on this night, are as transgressors who have come to ask forgiveness and atonement. But the heart of Kol Nidre does not deal with transgression; rather it pierces the human heart and highlights our vulnerability as humans, separate from our Creator.