Poverty and the White Horse’s Red Strap

Exploring Babylon Chapter 18-1/2 The previous chapter, “Exile, Passover, and Melting Pot,” looked at nine bible verses using the word “kur,” usually translated as “crucible” or “furnace.” This addendum shares the odd midrash on one such verse, mentioned in the earlier post, which suggests some ideas about Passover, exile, and learning. Furnace Midrash Each appearance […]

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Trouble to See #2: Beyond Central Casting

further thoughts and references on Jews and Racial Justice…. “Bernie Sanders Looks Like Everyone’s Jewish Grandpa…,” read a headline on the Jewish Daily Forward website earlier this election season. But Sanders doesn’t look anything like these Jewish men, some of whom are probably grandpas, or like many Sephardic grandpas. He doesn’t look like the grandparents […]

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Death by Disrespect (Beyond 31)

How can we end the plague of disrespect around race-related topics that threatens our country with disaster? Perhaps the Omer journey shows us a way to begin. Rabbi Akiva, a key player in the story of four who visited Paradise (see yesterday’s post), is also central to a narrative linked with the Omer period. The […]

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The Most Dangerous of Dualisms (Beyond 30)

No one knows for certain what the ancient rabbi meant when warned his fellow mystical travelers against saying “Water! Water!”: When you reach the stones of pure marble, don’t say, “Water! Water!” As it states, “One who speaks falsehood shall not endure before My eyes” [Psalms 101:7] — Babylonian Talmud, Chagigah 14b The speaker, Rabbi […]

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In Touch with the Source (Beyond 10)

Three days into the wilderness journey, the promise of freedom seems to fade — וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לִשְׁתֹּת מַיִם מִמָּרָה כִּי מָרִים הֵם they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter [the waters? or the People?] — Exodus 15:23 Despite their recent experiences of leaving bondage and the miraculous, sea-splitting escape […]

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Is this 1959 or 2014? Prayers for a Change

DC Tefillin Barbie would love to focus on her passions of Jewish text and gender studies. But — don’t let that frozen smile fool you — she’s got other pressing concerns as well. She finds, in fact, that concern for the racial tensions exploding in Ferguson, MO, and around the country dominate her prayers. For […]

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Tefillin Barbie Tries a New Siddur

Soferet [scribe] Jen Taylor Friedman uses her scribal arts to create a variety of ritual items: ketubot [marriage certificates]; scrolls of the Book of Esther; scrolls to be used in mezuzot [doorpost markers] and tefillin [ritual boxes bound to arm and head]; as well as complete sets of tefillin. In 2007, she became the first woman […]

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Aramaic, Arabic and Jewish Names of God

This post was updated, 8/28/18, correcting an error in the section on Aramaic names for God. HaMakom [The Place] and Ribbono Shel Olam [Master of the Universe] are Hebrew. (Thanks to Norman Shore for pointing out the mistake; only took me 18 months to make the correction!) יתגדל ויתקדש שמה רבא In a previous post, […]

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Juxtaposing Redemption and Prayer

Once, Rav Beruna “juxtaposed redemption and prayer” — i.e., managed his morning prayers in such a way that he completed the Redemption [“Mi Chamocha“] blessing, following the morning Shema, and moved on to the Amidah [Standing Prayer] just exactly at sunrise — and laughter [and joy] did not cease from his mouth for the entire […]

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