Archive for 'biblical history'

The Halitzah Ceremony– And Its Modern Ethical Challenges

As mentioned earlier the levirate marriage takes place between a widow who’s husband died childless and his brother (known as the levir); halitzah (“removal”) is a ceremony that releases the woman from the obligation of Levirate marriage, allowing her to marry someone else.

Although Levirate marriage itself no longer is practiced, traditional Jews still require halitzah, formally releasing the widow from the biblically required union with her brother-in-law. The widow appears before a tribunal of five people–three of whom happen to ...

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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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Jewish Ethics 101: Do not place a stumbling block before the blind … (Lev. 19:4)

One of the most important and yet neglected ethical proscriptions of the Torah is the famous passage, “Do not place a stumbling block before the blind” (Lev. 19:4). Talmudic tradition stresses the importance of not taking advantage of another person’s ignorance. Thus, we find: “ How do we know that one should not hold out a cup of wine to a Nazirite  or a limb from a living animal to a Noahide? From Scripture, which says, “You shall not ...

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Invocation at the Night to Honor Israel 2009

Many Jews have prayed for the return to our biblical homeland. “And let our eyes behold thy return in mercy to Zion. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who restorest thy divine presence unto Zion.”

Today, we are witnessing one of the greatest miracles of human history–the return of the Jewish people to her ancestral homeland. We are living in an age of miracles; a fulfillment of the biblical ingathering of the exiles spoken in Isaiah. Israel is, as Abraham Joshua Heschel ...

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Creation as Novelty

In honor of the new Torah reading cycle, I thought I would explain some thoughts about the parsha as it pertains to the miracle of Creation.

However, Ibn Ezra is less convinced and contends that the linguistic evidence does not support such an interpretation.[7] The verb בָּרָא’ may also mean to fashion something out of already existing materials (e.g., the creation of man, whose body came from the dust of the earth, and whose soul issued forth from God’s breath).[8] Ibn ...

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