At the end of the patriarch Jacob’s life, Joseph brings his sons to his father for a blessing. This scene, recorded in Genesis 48, includes a seemingly odd statement by Jacob: “And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the road…and I buried her there in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem” (Genesis 48:7).
Deuteronomy 16:18 states: “…You shall not take a bribe, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts just words.”
It is a fact of history that students have frequently been at the center of radical movements, often under the influence of a teacher or mentor. This was the case of Rabbi Yonah of Geronah, who, following the lead of his teacher Rabbi Solomon of Montpellier, passionately called for a ban on the philosophical work of Maimonides, The Guide to the Perplexed. In fact, Rabbi Yonah is generally regarded as the instigator of the 1233 Inquisitional book burning of Maimonides’ work.
Some people might find it surprising that the sages discussed certain “best practices” for getting dressed. For instance, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, an abridged compendium of the laws enumerated in the full Code of Jewish Law, states: “You should be careful not to put on two articles of clothing at one time, this causes forgetfulness.” (For instance, finish buttoning your shirt before putting on your pants lest you get distracted and leave the house dishevelled.)
Like many of the later prophets, the Book of Zechariah has more prophecy than narrative.
Kiddush, sanctification, is the prayer said over wine through which Jews proclaim the uniqueness of Shabbat and sanctify the day. Reciting or hearing Kiddush on Shabbat is an obligation for all adult Jews. The blessing is recited while holding up the kiddush cup in one’s dominant hand. Once the blessing is concluded, the person reciting the Kiddush drinks from the wine and distributes it so that everyone present can actively participate in the mitzvah.
The sages wisely noted in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers 4:1) that a truly wealthy person is one who is happy with his/her lot. Alas, dissatisfaction and the sense of being entitled to something more has frequently been the source of conflict throughout time. One might go back as far as the Tower of Babel to see the tragic results of territorialism.
Today is Rosh Chodesh Mar-Cheshvan, the first day of the month of Mar-Cheshvan, which is the eighth month of the Hebrew calendar. (The count of the months begins with Nisan.) Although the month is named Mar-Cheshvan, it is more commonly referred to as Cheshvan.
It is a fundamental Jewish belief that in the era of the Messiah, the world will be transformed into a state of perfection. As stated by Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Rambam, Maimonides – 12th century, Egypt): “At that time, there will be no hunger or war, no jealousy or rivalry” (Mishneh Torah, Law of Kings 12:5).
Because it was customary for idol worshippers to bow fully to the ground before their idols, Jews refrain from bowing down (with the exception being during the Yom Kippur service).