The first Jewish settlers in the area now known as Quebec (but which was referred to as “Lower Canada” by the British) arrived with the British soldiers during the “French and Indian War” (1754-1763). (Jews and other non-Catholics had not been permitted in New France.)
On June 30, 2008, the first Jewish Treat was posted to Jewishtreats.org. There were less than 50 people on the subscription list. Today, we are proud to say, over 2,500 people receive Jewish Treats in their inboxes every day, and hundreds more read Jewish Treats via links on Twitter and Facebook. The feedback that Jewish Treats has generated over the last three years is a source constant encouragement.
“Behind every great man…” So who were the women who gave their support to Moses and Aaron, the leaders of the Jewish people?
One of the most popular Psalms, number 135, praises God for killing mighty kings. It then lists Sichon, King of Amorites, and Og, King of Bashan. According to the Midrash, Sichon and Og were more than just belligerent kings, they were powerful giants. Little is said about Sichon other than that “Sichon and Og were the sons of Ahijah, the son of Shamhazai”(Niddah 61a). Og, however, is the subject of a great many legends.
According to tradition, Og survived the great flood by holding on to the Ark. Noah agreed to transport and feed him in return for the promise of Og’s service afterwards (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 23). Later, it is said, Og was the one who came to tell Abraham of Lot’s captivity (Genesis 11:13)–his motive, however, according to the Midrash, was not noble. He hoped that Abraham would be killed in war so that he might marry Sarah.
Midrash Rabbah Genesis 53:10 notes that the “great feast” that Abraham held in honor of Isaac’s weaning was actually “a feast for great people, Og and all the great men of the time were there….[Og said] ‘is he [Isaac] not puny? I can crush him by putting my finger on him.’ Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: ‘What do you mean by disparaging My gift! By your life, you will yet see countless thousands and myriads of his descendants, and your own fate will be to fall into their hands.’”
When the Israelite’s had to fight Og and his army (Numbers 21), Moses needed reassurance from God, which is explained thus in the Talmud:
He [Og] said: “How large is the camp of Israel? Three parsangs…” He went and uprooted a mountain of the size of three parsangs and carried it on his head [to throw onto the camp]. But the Holy One, blessed be He, sent ants that bored a hole in it, so that it sank around his neck….[Moses] then took an axe ten cubits long, leaped ten cubits into the air, and struck him on his ankle and killed him (Berachoht 54b).
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A couple just starting their lives together inspires joy and hope, and everyone wants to wish them success. These blessings of good will are so important to a new couple that the Jewish marriage ceremony begins* with blessings. Seven of them, to be exact, known as the Sheva Brachoht, the seven blessings. (Sheva Brachoht is also the name used to refer to dinner parties held in honor of the bride and groom during the week after their wedding.)
Mothers always instruct their children to wash their hands before supper. After all, children play in unclean places, touch strange objects and suck their thumbs, so their hands definitely need to be washed before they touch any food. In a Jewish household, however, the request for a child to wash his/her hands might only be an indicator that the child is about to eat bread.
This coming November, the people of San Francisco will vote on a referendum to make it a misdemeanor to circumcise any male under the age of 18. And while many Americans were surprised by the proposal, and great debates are raging on the internet, if the referendum passes, this will certainly not be the first time that circumcision has been outlawed. The most famous prohibition of circumcision occurred during the rule of the Syrian-Greeks during the era of the Maccabees. At that time, however, circumcision was actually a capital offense.
Mention the Ark of the Covenant and most people think of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the 1981 movie starring Harrison Ford. The real Ark of the Covenant, created concurrently with the other vessels of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), was placed in the Holy of Holies of the First Temple by King Solomon. The question of the present location of the Ark is debated by the sages. When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, was the Ark taken into captivity by the Babylonians or was it hidden?
Unfortunately, it would not be difficult to write a list of powerful men whose careers have been toppled by the scandal of adultery. Alas, we often say, sarcastically, what more can one expect of politicians, sports stars, celebrities, etc? The connection between wealth and power to the vice of adultery is, sadly, nothing new. “Rabbi Hiyya Ben Abbas said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: Every man in whom is haughtiness of spirit will in the end stumble through an [unfaithful] married woman” (Sotah 4b).
You receive a telephone call offering you ten million dollars; all you have to do is go upstairs and wake your father from his mid-day nap. Who’d hesitate?