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.
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?
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.
What does Jewish law have to say about conceiving children via surrogates?
If we stop a moment to think back and ask ourselves how our Jewish identity has been formed by our individual experience, what has influenced us to keep the tradition of our ancestors, and in rare cases to join the Jewish people in order to become part of its national and religious life – in most cases, we probably will recall childhood memories of our parents, who guided us to continue in their way of life. We each have our own childhood memory, distant or recent.
May women serve as Mohalot?
This article began as a Hebrew responsum written on Rosh Hodesh Marheshvan 5763. I then lectured on the topic at the Sixth International Conference on Jewish Names at Bar Ilan University on June 11, 2003. The complete article appeared in Hebrew in Studies in Memory of Prof. Zev Falk , Jerusalem, 2005, pp. 27-38 which can be ordered from Magnes Press at www.magnespress.co.il . This English summary contains a few selected notes; lengthy footnotes can be found in the Hebrew article.
The Jewish Attitude Towards Birthdays [note]This section is based on Alexander Kohut, Sefer Arukh Hashalem, Vol. 2, Vienna-New York, 1878 ff., pp. 322-323; Samuel Krauss, Griechische und lateinische Lehnworter etc., Vol. 2, Berlin, 1899, p. 180; Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 221-222, s.v. Birthday; Otzar Yisrael , Vol. 5, p. 112, s.v. Yom Huledet ; Samuel Krauss, Parass V’romi Batalmud Uvamidrashim , Jerusalem, 1948, pp. 72-73; H. J. Zimmels, Ashkenazim and Sephardim , London, 1958, pp. 165-166; Chanokh Albeck, Shishah Sidrei Mishnah , Vol. 4, Jerusalem-Tel Aviv, 1959, pp. 325, 487; Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ , Revised English Edition, Volume I, Edinburgh, 1973, pp. 346-348 in note 26; S. D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society , Vol. V, Berkeley etc., 1988, pp. 27-28; Rabbi Murray Stadtmauer, My Father’s Century , Bayside, New York, 1999, pp. 70-72; Yisrael Ta-Shema, Zion 67/1 (5762), pp. 19-24; Ivan Marcus, The Jewish Life Cycle , Seattle and London, 2004, pp. 39-41. [/note]…