Category: Exploring Babylon

The Powers and the Wealth

Exploring Babylon Chapter 15.1 The battle between God and Pharaoh reaches a crescendo in this week’s Torah portion — Bo (Ex 10:1 – 13:16) — and the denouement includes an exchange of treasure between the […]

Babylon and New Beginnings

Exploring Babylon Chapter 14 The Joseph Cycle, which closes out the Book of Genesis, has it all, in terms of story-telling: politics, sex, family drama, passages that touch on religious and cultural practices, plus a […]

Foreign Languages and Imagination

The brand new Koren Rav Kook Siddur presents commentary, not previously published in English — including this note on the Psalm 81 which sheds some light for #ExploringBabylon.

The Five Powers, part 3

A few notes on Rome — and on Micah’s “seven shepherds” — to round out the discussion of “Ma’oz Tzur.”

The Five Powers, part 2

Before Chanukah is too distant a memory, let’s look at the remaining powers, Persia and Rome, associated with the holiday and the piyyut that includes them all.

Chanukah and the Five Powers

Five foreign powers show up this week in the Jewish calendar. It’s worth examining each of these empires to see what light it sheds — on its own and in conjunction with the others.

Dick Gregory and Rabbis Under Rome

“Joseph found out it’s dangerous to be a dreamer….Or sell the dreamer into slavery; purchase the dream with foundation grants or government deals…” Dick Gregory, in 1974, sounded a whole lot like Rabbis under Roman rule.

Torah of Exile

Jacob studied “the Torah of exile” in his younger years, and that helped sustain him during his time with Laban. Joseph, in turn, uses this “Torah of exile” during his decades in Egypt.

Babylon and Rachel’s Offering

This midrash offers lessons for people struggling to function with integrity and flexibility in a diverse, often contradictory, world.

The Babylon Road

The biblical Rachel’s life and death link her to the Babylon of the past and future and to the precarious nature of Israel’s future on the land.