Completing Creation

Completing Creation

Apr 17, 2009 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Metzora | Tazria

One of the better known rabbinic midrashim connects the disease of leprosy with the sin of slandering: that is, God afflicts the slanderer with leprosy (B.T. Arakhin 15b). Underlying the connection is the close resemblance in the Hebrew words for each. According to Resh Lakish, who authored this midrash in the third century long after the Temple had been leveled, the biblical term for leprosy, metzora (Leviticus 14:1), is but a compressed form of the rabbinic term for slandering, motzi shem ra (literally, to give someone a bad name). Even to an ear untrained in Hebrew, the similarity in sounds of this clever identification is apparent.

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The Inspirational History of Rosh Hashanah

The Inspirational History of Rosh Hashanah

Oct 5, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Rosh Hashanah

If sanctity be measured by synagogue attendance, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur win hands down.

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What Is Love?

What Is Love?

Oct 1, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Nitzavim

Love is surely a tough emotional state to prescribe by law.

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The Language of the Jewish People

The Language of the Jewish People

Sep 24, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Ki Tavo

The owner of the mid-nineteenth-century farmhouse we rented for August has a well-tended orchard of diverse fruit trees.

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The Status of Women

The Status of Women

Sep 17, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Ki Tetzei

At JTS’s opening barbecue for faculty and their families last week, my son and daughter-in-law told us sheepishly that their fourteenth wedding anniversary had caught them unawares.

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The Responsibility of Holding Office

The Responsibility of Holding Office

Sep 10, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shofetim

Rabbi Hananiah, the Deputy High Priest, taught: “Pray for the welfare of the government, for if people did not fear it, they would swallow each other alive” (Pirkei Avot 3:2, trans. Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, 264).

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Vanquishment Through the Written Word

Vanquishment Through the Written Word

Sep 3, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Re'eh

For a book that purports to be but a reprise of the other books of the Torah, Deuteronomy abounds with puzzling discrepancies.

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Judaism’s Activist Spirit

Judaism’s Activist Spirit

Aug 27, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Eikev

In his early Zionist tract, Rome and Jerusalem (1862), Moses Hess declaimed “that the Jewish religion is, above all, Jewish patriotism.”

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On Writing Torah Commentaries

On Writing Torah Commentaries

Jul 9, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Hukkat

As I begin my twentieth and final year as Chancellor, I am mindful of the cautionary verse from Proverbs, wisely inserted by our sages in the morning liturgy: “Many are the designs of the human heart, but in the end, it is God’s plan that will prevail.”

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Lessons From the Book of Ruth

Lessons From the Book of Ruth

Jun 12, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shavuot

Sharing our possessions is not a disposition that comes naturally.

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JTS’s Eternal Light

JTS’s Eternal Light

Jun 11, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Beha'alotekha

Forty-five years ago my marriage to my wife Sally coincided with the weekly Torah portion of Beha’alotekha, “When you (Aaron) mount the lamps, let the seven lamps give light at the front of the lampstand” (Numbers 8:2).

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Our Rendezvous with God

Our Rendezvous with God

Jun 11, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Naso

The completion of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, like the construction of the Temple by Solomon centuries later, restricts the locus of God’s presence to a single sacred space.

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Counting People

Counting People

Jun 5, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Bemidbar

The book of Numbers opens on a triumphant note.

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“Dear Mr. Prime Minister…”

“Dear Mr. Prime Minister…”

May 28, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Behukkotai

This past Sunday, New York Jewry greeted the Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, at a Leadership Assembly at Baruch College sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and United Jewish Communities.

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The Sabbatical Year

The Sabbatical Year

May 19, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Behar

The DNA of Judaism is the number seven.

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Claiming Our Spiritual Freedom

Claiming Our Spiritual Freedom

May 14, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Emor

The laws of the Torah are rooted in the exodus from Egypt.

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Pesah: The Great Redemption

Pesah: The Great Redemption

Apr 23, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Aharei Mot | Shabbat Hagadol

The Shabbat just prior to Passover is known as the Great Sabbath, Shabbat HaGadol.

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Elijah the Prophet

Elijah the Prophet

Apr 23, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shabbat Hagadol

The Shabbat just prior to Passover is known as the Great Sabbath, Shabbat ha–Gadol. It is not one of the four special Sabbaths that span the month of Adar to herald the coming of Passover (Shekalim, Zakhor, Parah and ha–Hodesh).

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The Theology of the Jewish Calendar

The Theology of the Jewish Calendar

Apr 9, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Pesah | Shabbat Hahodesh

With Shabbat ha-Hodesh, we are just two weeks away from the first seder. Passover does not usually fall this late in April. A leap year accounts for its delay. In the Jewish calendar, unlike the secular one, a leap year consists of adding an extra month, and there are seven such leap years within every cycle of nineteen years. The month that is doubled is Adar, the last month of the year, the one in which we celebrate Purim. Hence, in a leap year, Purim comes in the second Adar (adar sheni) and Passover, thirty one-days later.

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God As a Tragic Character

God As a Tragic Character

Apr 2, 2005 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shemini | Shabbat Parah

Ours is not the first generation to discover that we live in an imperfect world.

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