Archive for 'American Jewish Issues'

Augustine and the “Mark of Cain”

What is the significance of the “mark of Cain” (Gen. 4:15)?

The text does not identify exactly what the sign was. Historically, this passage has often served as a scriptural support for Christian persecution of the Jews. For Cain, this was a mark of God’s special loving care and protection. For Jerome’s contemporary, Augustine, this idea proved to be a fertile concept for his comparison of Cain to the Jews. Curiously, Augustine, said nothing about this mark serving as a protective ...

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Understanding the Purpose of the Levirate Marriage and Its Symbolism

One of the ancient institutions that have persisted since archaic times is the levirate marriage. Here is a brief synopsis of the institution and its underlying rational.

Life of a widow in the ancient world was precarious at best. Having no inheritance rights, she was easily exploited and was frequently reduced to abject poverty and/or prostitution. Many ancient civilizations from India, Africa, to the Ancient Near East utilized the levirate marriage (from the Latin  levir, a “brother-in-law”) as a means of ...

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Meditations: Rediscovering the Meaning of Rosh Hashanah

Meditations: Rediscovering the Meaning of Rosh Hashanah

As I prepare my thoughts for Rosh Hashanah. I become aware of time. Yes, the New Year has arrived. We are blessed to have received it. It ’s true that for many of us the arrival of any New Year on some level makes us a bit anxious. Why is that?!!Time marches on …. We are all a bit older, but are we necessarily wiser? Rosh Hashanah stresses that while time is fleeting, we ...

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Grieving for a non-Jewish spouse or parent

An interesting but poignant incident took place last week on one of my favorite websites where the participants were discussing the new Orthodox Siddur (prayer book) that the Chief Rabbi of Britain recently wrote. The participants made comparisons to the Artscroll prayer book and the discussions suddenly took an unexpected turn—one that was surprising and tragic.

One of the forum’s participants named Mordechai wrote the following message about a conversation he had with a well-known Chabad rabbi in Florida.

My soul-mate and ...

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