Editorial & Opinion | Musings

04/30/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Once, right before Yom Kippur, Rabbi Yisroel Salanter was seen scurrying about, trying to get a cat to enter his home. His students were puzzled — why was their famous teacher bothering with a cat, and why on the eve of the holiest day of the year?

04/24/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

The Book of Exodus, in Hebrew, is called “Sh’mot,” or names. Yet the first extended story, about the slavery from Egypt, records none of the names of the Egyptians save for the midwives, Shifra and Puah. (Although some commentators claim them as Jews, it seems clear the Torah intends them to be taken for Egyptians). Even Pharaoh is a title, not a name — one of the reasons it is so difficult to determine which Pharaoh should be associated with the time period.

04/17/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

Pharaoh proclaims the Israelites a threat, and yet fears their leaving: “Come let us deal cleverly with them, lest they increase, and when war strikes they will join with our enemies, and leave [Exodus 1:10].” This paradox is familiar from Jewish history.  Jews were expelled throughout history, but equally often, tyrants who felt threatened by Jews nonetheless refused to let them immigrate to more benign lands.

04/09/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

The first morning blessing thanks God for the ability to distinguish between day and night. The most immediate reference is to the dawn; the worshiper wakes and is grateful for the rising sun. But as Passover reminds us, there is a deeper meaning.

04/02/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

When Adam and Eve are fashioned in the Garden of Eden, the Torah makes an important editorial comment: “Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife.” My best guess is that comment was to pacify parents.

03/26/2014 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

The great Greek playwright Aeschylus tells us that Prometheus gave the world two gifts: fire and ignorance of our own fate. In other words, an uncertain future, and the power to shape it; both light and darkness.