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.

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., […]

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.

Toward a Jewish Bible Reader’s Self-Inventory

Jews and other interested Bible readers are invited to test-drive “Jews’ Self Inventory for Bible Readers,” comment on it, and share results.

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.

Jacob’s Dream and What’s Ours

Jacob’s Dream and the holiday of Thanksgiving call us to carefully examine what is “ours” and how we view its rightful distribution.

Babylon, Taxes, and Thanksgiving

U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and the economics of “Black Friday” make this a good time to consider what Judaism demands in terms of taxes and justice.