Archive for 'Jewish History'

When Numbers Become Obscene

In the beginning of Exodus 30:12-13, God commands Moses not conduct a head count of the Israelites before they go into battle against future adversaries:

“When you take a census of the Israelites who are to be registered, each one, as he is enrolled, shall give the LORD a forfeit for his life, so that no plague may come upon them for being registered. Everyone who enters the registered group must pay a half-shekel, according to the standard of the sanctuary ...

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When “Peace at any cost” becomes a prelude to mayhem

Aaron’s construction of the Golden Calf has always perplexed me. It seems as though Aaron gets away with a free pass, while everyone else who actually worships the calf is punished. Surely tradition teaches וְלִפְנֵי עִוֵּר לֹא תִתֵּן מִכְשֹׁל “do not place a stumbling block in front of a blind person” (Lev. 19:14). What greater stumbling block could one put, than to cause another to worship idols? Yet, Aaron gets off with hardly a reprimand. Asked in another way: How ...

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“Purim Torah” or Purim Synchronicity?

Purim Torah is a remarkable genre of Jewish literature. It is rabbinic satire at its best that centers around the festivities of Purim. Those individuals writing Purim Torah display remarkable wit in weaving Talmudic logic in fabricating conclusions that border the absurd and sublime.

Earlier this week, I received a delightful section of a fabricated Talmud–replete with all the Aramaic expressions one would expect to find in a Talmudic debate. The selection contains a discussion involving President ...

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The Haman Archetype Lives On

The joke is as old as the hills.

A Chinese man and his Jewish friend were walking along one day when the Jewish man whirled and slugged the Chinese man and knocked him down. “What was that for?” the Chinese man asked. “That was for Pearl Harbor!” the Jewish man said. “Pearl Harbor? That was the Japanese. I’m Chinese.” “Chinese, Japanese, you are all the same!” “Oh!” They continued walking and after a while the Chinese man whirled and knocked the ...

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Purim Memories and Reflections

Purim is here once more. For me it is a bitter-sweet holiday.

The year was 1996. Earlier that day, I went to the hospital to wish my father a “Freilach Purim” (Happy Purim).  I was reading the Megillah for my synagogue, when suddenly, somebody informed me,”Rabbi, your father just died.” Feeling stunned, I could not finish reading the Megillah.

Death is as mysterious as life; I believe we have to find meaning in the events that occur around us.  Psychologist Victor Frankl ...

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