Stony Brook Film Festival
view counter

Editorial & Opinion | Musings

08/13/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

The first piece of land purchased in Israel is the cave of Machpelah that Abraham buys to bury Sarah. Of course, Abraham too will be buried there, as will Isaac and Rebekah and Jacob and Leah. So while the first plot of land in Israel is an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of death, it is also a marker of the eternity of love.

08/06/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

The Jewish people brought the idea of one God to the world. Although there have been vastly different ideas about the nature of that God — including the recognition that we cannot, with our limited capacities, truly know God’s nature — one thing has remained consistent. Whatever God is, the existence of God demands certain things from human beings.

07/30/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

As a vegetarian, I have given some thought to the place of animals in Jewish tradition. Differing views on the place of animals in the scheme of life is an old controversy. In the Middle Ages, Saadiah Gaon speculates that there is a reward for animals in the hereafter, but the later sage Maimonides ridicules the idea. Whatever their metaphysical status however, there are Talmudic stories where cruelty to animals is punished, and sparing suffering is consistent with all of Jewish teaching.

07/23/2014 | | Special to the Jewish Week | Musings

Hebrew has no one letter words. The word for “I” is “Ani,” which begins with the letter aleph. Aleph is a silent letter. Referring to oneself then, should begin in silence.

07/16/2014 | | Special to the Jewish Week | Musings

Professor Louis Ginzberg was the greatest scholar of rabbinic Midrash in his day, with a vast range of learning in many languages. My father told me that once, at a reception at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where Ginzberg taught, a woman approached him and in the course of discussion, began arguing with him about a point in Midrash. After a long, fruitless argument, Ginzberg said, “Why don’t we check the ‘Jewish Encyclopedia’ — would you accept that as an authority?” The woman agreed.

07/09/2014 | | Special to the Jewish Week | Musings

Sending his son Adam some stamps, Saul Bellow wrote in the accompanying note, “Countries sometimes disappear leaving nothing behind but postage stamps.” Anyone who has studied history must indeed be mystified at what endures — the shopping lists of ancient Sumer or obscure graffiti scratched on a prehistoric cave. As in Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” what we think will survive often disappears with barely a trace.