Category: ancient ritual

Ezekiel, Exodus, and Babylon

Exploring Babylon Chapter 17 Recent scholarship concerning the prophet Ezekiel touches on some fascinating questions about the extent to which Judeans in Babylonian exile were acculturated and how cultural contact between Babylon and Israel might […]

Sukkot and Babylon

Many centuries of prayers linked the fragility of Sukkot with exile.

Opening and the Ark

What does it mean to open the Ark? In my experience the Torah service exhibits more diversity than any other part of a Jewish service. Reading length varies across denominations. General approach ranges from informal […]

The Power of Tzitzit

“Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” posted last week, mentions a 30-day grace period before a four-cornered garment requires tzitzit [ritual fringes]. This ruling is attributed to Rav Judah. It appears in his name in tractate Chullin […]

Psalm 27 for the season (4 of 4)

“If you’re not 20 minutes early, you’re late,” my ballet teacher, Marie Paquet, used to tell her adult students: Without time to leave behind the outside world and prepare to focus, warm up physically and […]

“The Jews Welcome…

…God” Each Sukkot morning, many of us stand momentarily with God’s name across our chests, facing away from us, like so many tour guides awaiting the same unfamiliar customer.

High Priest’s Prayer for Those on Fault-Lines

As the ancient Jewish community added a prayer on Yom Kippur for those in an especially vulnerable spot, let us consider doing the same: May this year that is coming be one of abundance, building, […]

Awaiting the Harvests: Re’eh Prayer Links

“You find three verses [two in this week’s portion] that command you to rejoice in the Feast of Tabernacles….For Passover, however, you will not find even one command to rejoice. Why not?” Several explanations are […]

Then Israel Sang: Leadership Variation

“Then,” after safely crossing the Sea of Reeds, the Egyptians’ pursuit thwarted, “Moses and the Israelites sang…Miriam took her timbrel…and all the women followed her” (Exodus/Shemot 15:1, 20-21). “Then” — forty years later, after God […]

Be Not Afraid: Community and Challah

Two of the most iconically gendered concepts in Jewish prayer — that “tenth man” for a minyan, on the one hand, and taking challah, one of three “women’s commandments,” on the other — come from […]