Spain in the Middle Ages was home to scholars of great renown such as Abraham ibn Ezra (1089 – c. 1164), Judah ha-Levi (1086-1145), Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides/Rambam 1135-1204) and Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Nachmanides/Ramban – 1194-1270). By the middle of the 13th century, however, the welcoming attitude of the Spanish kingdoms that had allowed Jewish life to thrive, had vanished.
Catherine II (AKA Catherine the Great, 1729-1796) was born Sophia Augusta Frederica, a daughter of the ruling family of Anhalt (a German state). In 1744, she married her second cousin, who was to become Czar Peter III. Six months after Peter III ascended the throne, he was deposed and assassinated, and Catherine assumed the throne.
Why is a donkey called a donkey? For Jewish Treats, a more interesting question is why is a donkey called a chamor?
One of the most common ways of addressing God in the Jewish liturgy is Avinu, our Father. By addressing God as Avinu, one can not only learn about humanity’s relationship with God, but also about Judaism’s view of fatherhood.
In what way is an umbrella similar to the Mishkan (Tabernacle), which served as the dwelling place of the Shechina (Divine Presence) during the Israelite’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness?
The Rod of Asclepius, a serpent wrapped around a staff that is associated with the Greek god of medicine, is commonly used as a symbol for medical centers.
Which is more “treif” (generic term used for non-kosher foods): a McDonalds’ burger or a ham sandwich from the corner deli?
The study of law appears to attract a disproportionate number of Jews, perhaps because expounding arguments, pro and con, is one of the great pleasures of Talmudic discourse. In fact, one finds the first prototypical Jewish lawyer, Geviha ben Pesisa, in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 91a).
The old adage that the “best defense is a good offense,” very much agrees with the method of self-defense advocated by the Talmud. The Mishna, as quoted in Sanhedrin 73a, says: “The following must be saved [from sinning] even at the cost of their lives: he who pursues his neighbor in order to slay him…” In other words, it is permitted to kill a person who is attempting to murder another person.
Ohn the son of Pelet was a Reubenite who fell under the sway of a rebellious Levite named Korach. Korach felt that a great injustice had been perpetrated in Aaron’s appointment to the High Priesthood. Why, he challenged, was the leadership completely in the hands of Moses and Aaron?