The True Story of Hanukkah

The True Story of Hanukkah

Dec 4, 2010 By Benjamin D. Sommer | Commentary | Hanukkah

What is Hanukkah really about? There are several answers to a question like this, since the meaning of a holiday or ritual develops and grows over time. I’d like to point out a fascinating tension between two understandings of Hanukkah that becomes clear from examining two popular songs many of us sing after lighting the candles.

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The Dangers of Sacred Space

The Dangers of Sacred Space

Mar 5, 2010 By Benjamin D. Sommer | Commentary | Ki Tissa

For more than a month during this time of year, we read about the mishkan, the Tabernacle, also called the ohel mo’ed, or Tent of Meeting. Parashiyot T’rumah and T’tzavveh, which we read the past two weeks, contain what amount to blueprints in prose format. These readings describe exactly how the Children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai should construct the mishkan.

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What God Wants From Us

What God Wants From Us

Apr 7, 2009 By Benjamin D. Sommer | Commentary | Tetzavveh

What is the book of Exodus about? At first glance, the answer seems easy. As the English title states, it tells the story of the exodus from Egypt, the story of how God rescued the Israelites from slavery by defeating Pharaoh and his armies. A second glance, however, shows that this answer cannot be right.

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