The 48 chapters of the Book of Ezekiel are filled with wondrous visions. Ezekiel’s first vision is of a fiery chariot drawn by creatures with four faces (of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle) and four sets of wings.
The general rule of Jewish fast days is that they cannot occur on Friday. This rule is meant to protect the joy and happiness of Shabbat, for the sages felt that entering Shabbat hungry after a full day of fasting might diminish the joy and happiness of the holy day.
Great leaders can move mountains…or at least, masses of people. Ezra the Scribe was just such a leader, and it was his charisma and wisdom that inspired the Jews to leave their Babylonian exile and return to the land of Israel.
“Love me like the Torah says you should.” OK, that expression might not be commonly uttered among adoring lovers, but Jewish tradition actually has some interesting things to say about love. To get a better sense of Jewish perspectives on the subject, we asked a diverse group of rabbis, all of varying denominations, backgrounds and religious philosophies, for their thoughts.
Death is a big business, and the business of the funeral industry is geared toward comforting the mourner and helping them accept the passing of their loved ones. Therefore, most funeral homes offer an array of funeral and burial options. But, many of these options are actually contrary to Jewish law.
After four years of marriage and desperate to have a child, Rachel gave her handmaid, Bilhah, to her husband Jacob to be an additional wife and to bear children in her name. Any children resulting from the union of Jacob and Bilhah would be raised as if they were Rachel’s children. Rachel was overjoyed when Bilhah bore her first son, Dan.
There are certain renowned figures in history whose relationship with their Jewish heritage was so tenuous that they had no hesitation in accepting Christianity, but was strong enough that it shaped their lives. One such example is the renowned German poet, Heinrich Heine.
Many well-known Jewish songs are based on words from the Bible. While a vast majority of them are based on Tehillim (Psalms) one of the most famous is almost a direct quote from Genesis: Od Avinu Chai, “Our Father Still Lives.” In this song, however, an inferred meaning of the words is utilized, rather than the actual meaning in the Torah.
From lighting the Hanukkia to eating fried latkes and doughnuts, pretty much every Jewish school kid knows that Hanukkah celebrates the Maccabees’ improbable military triumph over the Greeks and the miraculous oil that burned in the Menorah for eight days instead of just one. But few children—or even adults—know that several scholars believe that some of the most beloved Hanukkah traditions are actually rooted in pagan and seasonal traditions.
Tonight we will light the final Chanukah candles. Let us take just a few more moments to make Chanukah real in our minds by placing it in its historical context: