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.

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Wax and Wicks

Jews have laws and customs for so many ritual details: washing hands in the morning, donning a tallit [prayershawl], the order of blessings before and after a meal, preparing a household for Passover, etc., etc., etc., etc. A special kavanah [intention] can be part of even the most mundane of actions, as well. But, while […]

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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.

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Kindling Hope with the Fourth Candle

How is Chanukah kindling hope for you and others this season? In memory of Rekia Boyd, killed at age 22, another victim of (off-duty) police violence from my first hometown, I am kindling hope with ChanukahAction by supporting Ferguson Action Demand #2: contacting the USDOJ to demand a comprehensive review of systemic abuses by local […]

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Chanukah Rededicates Jews to the Fight

Samuel L. Jackson’s challenge, Chanukah-style. [Everybody knows that I can’t sing, but] I can hear my neighbor calling I can’t breathe Now I’m in the struggle and I can’t leave Calling out the violence that racism breeds We ain’t gonna stop til people are free Chanukah rededicates Jews to the fight So I’m lighting one […]

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Throne, Heel, and Holidays

And whenever God sits upon His Throne of Glory He immediately thinks of the blue thread of the fringes worn by Israel, and bestows upon them blessings. — footnote in Soncino edition, Chullin 89a Does the color sapphire [sapir] somehow remind God of tekhelet [the blue of ritual fringes]? Or are the blues and God’s […]

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Psalm 30: Words, Chant, Song

some resources for exploring Psalm 30 Word-based Commentary So far the most thorough and useful commentary I’ve found on-line is still Schechter’s “A New Psalm”. [UPDATE 2017: Sadly, this on-line resource appears to be gone; Segal’s A New Psalm: The Psalms as Literature is now published by Geffen Books.] If anyone has a resource to […]

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