Archive for 'judaism'

From Lisbon to Katrina to Haiti (Part 2)

Hello friends!

Here is the rest of the article I wrote on the theological implications of Hurricane Katrina. I hope the material will clarify our earlier discussion regarding the Haiti earthquake.

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According to the religious leaders cited in the previous posting, God never left the Flood Business–despite the Scriptural verse that says the exact opposite! “WHEN the LORD smelled the sweet odor, he said to himself: “Never again will I doom the earth because of ...

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“Lady Wisdom–the Firstborn Daughter of Creation”

Sometime during the fifth or fourth century B.C.E., the Wisdom/Sophia tradition began to infiltrate Jewish religious sensibilities. At first it was introduced as a series of epigrams containing proverbial wisdom; however, in theological terms, the notion of Sophia came to personify God’s own wisdom. Over the centuries, this new concept influenced generations of Jewish thinkers and mystics—especially during the medieval period when Jewish thought renewed its historic love affair with Greek wisdom. Abraham Ibn Ezra (c. 1089–1164) asserts that the ...

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Who Is a Jew? Court Ruling in Britain Raises an Important Question

The Orthodox attempt to create a monopoly is not just a coercive religious force acting in Israel where the Haredi rabbis impose their will whenever they feel like it. Haredism is attempting to flex its muscle in Great Britain, as an English court is faced with one of the most important discrimination cases of modern times in English history.

Here’s the background to the case. A Jewish father married a woman who had a conservative conversion; by all accounts this family ...

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Can a woman serve as a Mohel?

Q. One of my congregants asked me a wonderful question. In Orthodox Judaism can a woman perform Brit Milah (ritual circumcision)?

I wrote back,

“ You have asked a great question! There is a controversy in tractate Avodah Zarah 27a regarding this very issue between Daru bar Papa who cites in the name of Rav and Rabbi Yochanan. Here is the substance of the argument. Daru b. Papa held that only someone who is obligated to observe the precept of circumcision can ...

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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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