A Sabbath Song for Parashat Noah

A Sabbath Song for Parashat Noah

Oct 29, 2011 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Noah

It is a lovely Jewish practice to sing songs at the Shabbat table. The little booklets that contain grace also provide the words of many zemirot, Sabbath songs. If we look at two of the more popular ones, Yah Ribbon and Mah Yedidot Menuhatekh, we find that their common theme is a plea to observe the Sabbath in the present, and a hope for a future in which God redeems the People Israel. But there is one song that differs from all the rest. It makes reference to this week’s Parashat No·ah. The name of the song is “The Dove Found a Place to Rest on the Sabbath (Yonah Maz’ah Bo Manoah).”

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In the Shadow of the Twin Towers

In the Shadow of the Twin Towers

Sep 10, 2011 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Ki Tetzei

As we approach the 10th anniversary of this tragedy, we can search in Parashat Ki Tetzei for a way to respond to it. The parashah ends with the verses about Amalek’s attack on the Israelites, shortly after they left Egypt (Deut. 25:17–19). The Torah says, “Remember what Amalek did to you . . . when you were famished and weary, [they] cut down the stragglers in your rear” (v. 18). According to the JPS translation, the words v’lo yarei Elohim (and not fearing God) at the very end of this verse refer not to the Israelites, as one might think, but to Amalek. The enemy did not fear the Divine, and so they attacked. The paragraph goes on to say that when the people of Israel reach their own land and are at peace, they should blot out all memory of Amalek itself, but always remember what Amalek did.

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Kedoshim in Context

Kedoshim in Context

Apr 30, 2011 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Kedoshim

Chapter 19 of Parashat Kedoshim contains some of the loftiest statements in the entire Torah. Consider, for example, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (verse 18) and “Light up the faces of the old” (verse 32). It is strange that this high-minded set of directives finds itself sandwiched between two chapters that focus on forbidden sexual liaisons: chapter 18 lists the bans and chapter 20 the punishments.

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Singing about Sacrifice

Singing about Sacrifice

Apr 16, 2011 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Pinehas

When I attended junior congregation as a child, one of my favorite Shabbat morning songs began with the words uv’yom haShabbat. We kids used to belt it out. I remember the same thing happening when I spent summers as a camper at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. But why sing today about slaughtering and offering up lambs on the altar in the Temple? An answer can be found in this week’s Parashat Pinhas, where these words, or rather these verses, originate.

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Who Counts?

Who Counts?

Jul 3, 2010 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Pinehas

We all filled out census forms this year, as stipulated by the United States constitution. The closing date was March 31. My twin sons, who were born on March 30, 1980, were included in that year’s census as one-day-old babies. I sometimes joke that they burst out of the womb seven weeks early just so that they could be counted. The Bible, however, does not count children.

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Caring for Our Parents

Caring for Our Parents

May 9, 2009 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

The third verse of Parashat K’doshim says, “Ish imo v’aviv tira’u” (One should revere his mother and father) (Lev. 19:3). The same mandate appears twice as the fifth commandment, “Kabed et avikha v’et imekha” (Honor your father and your mother) (Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16). Honoring parents was considered a virtue in the Roman world. Parents took care of their children, and children were expected to return the favor when parents grew old. But Rome did not create a legal obligation to care for parents, and a child who refused to do so could not be compelled by the courts.

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Love for All

Love for All

May 9, 1998 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Kedoshim

This Shabbat we will read two Torah portions, Aharei Mot and K’doshim . The topics covered in these parashiyot range from the ritual requirement of sending a scapegoat out to the desert on Yom Kippur, to a list of forbidden sexual relationships, to fundamental social legislation, reminiscent somewhat of the Ten Commandments.

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