Archive for 'Midrashic Deconstructions'

Rabbinic Altered States of Consciousness?

The subject of demonology has fascinated me ever since I first began reading scary stories as a child. In our culture today, the belief in demonic spirits continues to play a role in literature, movies, and religion. The recent stories about Rabbi Batzri and his exorcisms show that in Haredi and Hassidic communities, the belief in demonic possession is still very much alive and well–irregardless whether such malevolent entities exist or not.

In the world of the psyche, the imagination runs ...

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A Midrashic Deconstruction of the Miracle at the Sea

There is a well-known Midrash that tells of God’s reluctance to perform the miracle until He saw Israel make a move itself to deal with the prodigious problem.

All the tribes of Israel were afraid to jump into the water. Each tribe competed with the other in vacillation and retreat from the joint destiny of the nation.  Finally Nahshon ben Aminadav, a prince of the tribe of Judah, fearlessly, he jumped in, and then the members of his tribe ...

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What does Joseph’s Egyptian name “Zaphenath-paneah” actually mean?

Byline:  Dec. 18, 2009–4:00 PM

41:45 וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה שֵׁם־יוֹסֵף צָפְנַת פַּעְנֵחַ  — Pharaoh then gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah — Like other foreigners, Joseph assumes an Egyptian name so that he would better fit in Pharaoh’s court and be better accepted by the Egyptian people. The meaning of this Egyptian name is remains unclear and the certainty of its meaning has eluded scholars since the time of the Septuagint and rabbinic tradition.

For example, the some early exegetes think the name means, ...

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