Reward and punishment are complicated concepts. Suffice it to say that Divine intervention in the world is often through seemingly mundane acts. For instance, the Torah describes the death of the matriarch Rachel immediately following the difficult birth of her second son, Benjamin, but her death cannot be discussed without mentioning “the curse.”
The Talmud in Pesachim 54b lists the day of one’s death as the first of seven items that are hidden from humankind. As obvious a statement as this may seem, it is important to remember that, originally, humankind was not intended to die. Mortality was introduced only when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (which God warned them “for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die- Genesis 2:17), thus introducing death.
While we of the modern world scoff at the ancient alchemists who tried to turn lead into gold, many alchemical practices are at the root of today’s scientific experiments. Ironically, the fate and condition of alchemists in ancient and medieval society was often similar to that of the Jews–at the whim of the city rulers.
Born to a Chassidic family in Romania, Solomon Schechter (1847-1915) grew up to be a great scholar whose work had a deep and profound impact on Jewish life. After following the traditional Jewish path of study, Schechter studied at universities in both Vienna and Berlin, before eventually taking an academic post in the Judaic Studies department of Cambridge University. Through his academic work, Schechter was introduced to the “Historical Judaism” movement, which asserts that Jewish law was not static, but rather has always developed in response to changing conditions.
In their natural habitats, every creature on earth helps create a balance that allows the environment to flourish. This biological fact is part of the mechanics of Planet Earth. But the animal world offers humankind another benefit, for animals can be powerful examples of behavior.
It is nearly time for Thanksgiving, and throughout the United States communities are putting up posters for holiday food drives.
Few rabbis have been honored with having a mountain named for them. But, tucked away in the Laurentian range of Quebec, Canada, stands Mont le Rabbi-Stern (Mount Rabbi Stern). This 2,250 foot (above sea level) topographical feature was named in 1985 in honor of Rabbi Joshua Stern (1897-1984), the late Rabbi Emeritus of Montreal’s Temple Emanu-El.
The Dadist Cultural Movement created works so far from conventional art as to appear absurd, in order to create a new sense of reality for the audience. The movement incorporated all aspects of artistic life. Of the artists associated with Dadism, Man Ray (1890-1976) is one of the most famous.
Hachnassat Orchim, welcoming guests, is one of the better known mitzvot. For many, this is also one of the easiest. After all, who doesn’t enjoy having people over, acting as host, and sharing a hearty meal.
The Book of Obadiah is the shortest book of Tanach (Biblical canon), only one chapter long. It is directed at the nation of Edom, not at either of the Jewish kingdoms.Obadiah spoke out against the great arrogance of Edom, descendants of Jacob’s brother…