Editorial & Opinion | Musings

10/19/2010 | | Musings

The Talmudic sages enumerate three great miracles in the desert. First was the manna, which fed the wandering Israelites. Miriam’s well provided water. And there was the covering of clouds that offered shade. One interpretation of the sukkah is that it commemorates the cloud covering in the desert.

The Steipler Gaon asks an intriguing question and gives a beautiful answer. Why of all three miracles does only the cloud covering deserve a holiday? There is no festival of the manna or the water, only Sukkot remembering the clouds.

10/12/2010 | | Musings

 

 

Is there another religious tradition with a major character named “laughter?” Yitzchak means “laughter” and alone among the patriarchs, his name is not changed — because God names him.

When God is bested in an argument in the Talmud, Elijah reports that God’s reaction was to laugh. In addition to lamenting the difficulties of the world, Jews have long learned that now and then you’ve just got to laugh.

10/12/2010 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Musings

‘I’m getting older every day,” the octogenarian repeats. Once valedictorian of her high-school graduating class, she now hugs a toy bunny to her chest. “What should I do next?” she asks, as if she’s at an amusement park instead of at a Jewish nursing home in New Jersey.

The geriatric assistant sums up my mom’s condition in one word: “confused.” Yesterday my 86-year-old parent believed she was in an airport; today, she may be Alice in Wonderland, bewitched by a rabbit.

10/05/2010 | | Musings

Got a Kindle, a Nook, an iPad? Will the new technology ruin reading, or concentration, or devastate literacy and turn the young into illiterates? The argument is not new. 

09/29/2010 | | Musings

 Ecclesiastes is full of contradictions. Better the day of death than the day of birth we are told; but then we are reminded that a live dog is better than a dead lion. Everything is futile, we are told; but then we’re urged to obey the commandments — or to enjoy life with the one we love. Ecclesiastes teaches a great life lesson: No single value, idea or practice can be right for all people at all times.

09/22/2010 | | Musings

Sooner or later, the enemies of the Jewish people become the enemies of the world. Nazism, Soviet communism, radical Islam. All single out the Jews for special obloquy, but eventually the world pays the price. This has led some to call the Jewish people the canary in the coal mine: the canary, with its limited lung capacity, dies to let the miners know there is lethal gas.

But despite everything the Jewish people have survived. Better is the image of the sentinel in the watchtower. We have seen the oncoming enemy and called out in alarm.