“Faith and Footwear: Putting Their Best Feet Forward” Spotlights JTS Professor Edna Nahshon

"TO DON shoes, to doff them, or even to throw them at somebody? As with all the fundamentals of human life, religion has things to say about the question. And as Edna Nahshon, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York explained to me, the message is mixed. The Hebrew scriptures tell us that when the children of Israel were about to make their flight from Egypt, they were told to put shoes on their feet, and this sturdy footwear miraculously held together throughout their journey. But at the moment of his encounter with God, Moses was ordered to take off his shoes because he was treading on sacred ground (pictured). In similar circumstances, Joshua received a similar injunction. The fathers of the early Christian church were intrigued by the instruction to Moses. They thought shoes reflected decay and mortality, because they were made from the skin of dead animals, while God was calling Moses to a richer form of life."

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