The Attention Seeking Bush

The Attention Seeking Bush

Dec 29, 2007 By David M. Ackerman | Commentary | Shemot

A recent collection of one-liners and witticisms entitled 1,003 Great Things About Being Jewishcontains a section called “What Passersby Said About the Burning Bush.”

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God’s Nomenclature

God’s Nomenclature

Jan 13, 2007 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shemot

The act of “naming” is a God–like act that speaks to relationship and power.

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Guided by the Covenant

Guided by the Covenant

Jan 12, 2007 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Shemot

There is a wonderful midrash in Pesikta de-Rav Kahana that suggests a profound relationship between the arrival of the manna described in Parashat Be’shallah and the giving of the Ten Commandments recounted in the following parashah, Yitro. Just as the manna tasted different to each and every Israelite, Rabbi Yosi teaches, so each was enabled according to his or her particular capacity to hear the Divine Word differently at Sinai (12:25).

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A (Fearful) Man with a Mission

A (Fearful) Man with a Mission

Jan 21, 2006 By JTS Alumni | Commentary | Shemot

By Rabbi Francine Roston

There is a rabbinic teaching that each of us is to carry two pieces of paper in our pockets. From our left pocket we can pull out the piece that reads: “From dust and ashes I have come.” From our right pocket we can pull out the piece that reads: “For my sake the world was created.” There are moments when we need our feet pulled down to the ground and there are moments when we need to be lifted up from low places. 

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“My voice in everything”

“My voice in everything”

Jan 17, 2004 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Shemot

The Bible came to Broadway years ago. The hit musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat presented a rollicking and hummable version of the Joseph story with a happy ending. Musical theater has not, however, figured out a way of featuring someone whose story is even more important than that of Joseph: Moses. Yet what musical theater has been unable to do, its close relative, opera, has done. Arnold Schoenberg’s opera Moses und Aron is rarely performed (it was featured in New York this season) but makes an important statement.

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Opera’s Interpretation of Moses

Opera’s Interpretation of Moses

Jan 17, 2004 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Shemot

The Bible came to Broadway years ago. The hit musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat presented a rollicking and hummable version of the Joseph story with a happy ending.

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Legacy and Jewish Identity

Legacy and Jewish Identity

Dec 28, 2002 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shemot

What is the greatest legacy we can leave to our children and grandchildren?

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Stranger in a Foreign Land

Stranger in a Foreign Land

Dec 28, 2002 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shemot

Moses names his first born son Gershom, still a common Hebrew name. The child is born to him and his wife Zipporah in the land of Midian, to which he fled after he murdered an Egyptian taskmaster. We do not hear of Gershom again in the epic, yet his name bears on the destiny of his father and his people. The name consists of two Hebrew words, “ger sham,” meaning “a stranger there.” By bestowing it on his son, Moses stresses the complexity of his own fate: “I have been a stranger in a foreign land” (Exodus 2:22).

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God’s Human Partner

God’s Human Partner

Jan 5, 2002 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shemot

At the end of their gripping biography of Abraham Joshua Heschel (unfortunately chronicling only the European phase of his life), Edward Kaplan and Samuel Dresner report that he arrived in New York on March 21, 1940 aboard the Lancastria. For a moment, after reading that tidbit, I wondered if uncannily the Schorsch family had come on the same ship. I dimly knew that the month of our arrival had been March 1940.

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Pharaoh’s Rebellious Daughter

Pharaoh’s Rebellious Daughter

Jan 5, 2002 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Shemot

How did she get away with it?! How did the daughter of Pharaoh manage to save the baby Moses, and raise him in the royal court, when her father had decreed that all Hebrew boys were to be killed?

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Heroic Women

Heroic Women

Jan 20, 2001 By Joshua Heller | Commentary | Shemot

In first few chapters of Exodus, the Egyptian Pharaoh enacts harsh decrees to curtail the fertility and fecundity of the Jewish people (Exodus1:9), “pen yirbeh” – lest the Jews multiply. His increasingly genocidal decrees are thwarted by increasingly heroic women. Last, and perhaps most daring of all, is Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopts the young foundling Moses right under her father’s nose, even though she knows that all Egyptians have been commanded to kill any male Jewish baby.

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Midrash in the Prince of Egypt

Midrash in the Prince of Egypt

Jan 9, 1999 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shemot

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Prince of Egypt is a midrash on the exodus story, a specimen of reader participation in the recounting of ancient Israel’s foundation epic. While respecting the articulate contours of the biblical narrative, Mr. Katzenberg fills in the gaps with a distinctly contemporary sensibility. To my mind, the most imaginative and effective of these additions to the text is the relationship between Moses and the pharaoh of the exodus. They are portrayed as half-brothers and childhood friends. The film takes advantage of the Torah’s complete silence on Moses’s long years in the pharaoh’s palace to introduce a dramatic twist and humane subtext to the well-known cosmic contest between the God of the patriarchs and the gods of Egypt. It would have us imagine that in the royal domain Moses not only assimilated the mores of the Egyptian aristocracy, but also became the closest friend of Ramses, who was destined to be the next ruler of Egypt. The first quarter of the film is in fact devoted to the escapades of this carefree and destructive twosome, with Moses clearly the dominant figure.

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A Stranger to Israel

A Stranger to Israel

Jan 17, 1998 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shemot

I find the figure of Moses endlessly fascinating. He is the founder of Israel and its greatest prophet, a sculptor who works with human life, transforming a clan into a nation, a motley multitude into a polity of high moral order. Seized by God, he labors to complete the social vision first glimpsed by Abraham. As his ancestor abjured the religion of Mesopotamia, he rejects the religion of Egypt. In their stead, he voices the full scope of monotheism and lends it both cultic and political form. The measure of the man lies in the odds against him: the might of the Egyptian empire, the unheroic nature of a people impaired by slavery and his status as a stranger to Israelite society.

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Justice Is the New Counter-Culture

Justice Is the New Counter-Culture

Jan 4, 1997 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shemot

The book of Genesis ends on an Egyptian note: after his death, Joseph was embalmed and placed in a coffin to await burial in the land that God had promised his ancestors. Embalming is quintessentially Egyptian, one of a panoply of practices designed to obscure the reality of death. The whole religious tenor of Genesis bristles at the very idea; human life is but an extension of the earth: “For dust you are,” God tells a fallen Adam, “and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19).” To facilitate this merger, Jews in Israel are still buried without benefit of a coffin.

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Hearing Revelation

Hearing Revelation

Dec 24, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shemot

The Torah devotes nearly 40 verses to the exchange between God and Moses at the burning bush. No divine-human encounter of a personal nature gets similar coverage. The wealth of material gives us an idea of how revelation works, then and now. For the Torah is more than a collection of one-time religious experiences beyond our ken. God’s voice continues to fill the universe. We need to relearn how to hear it.

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The Eternity of Judaism

The Eternity of Judaism

Jan 1, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Shemot

When Solomon Schechter assumed the presidency of the Seminary some 90 years ago, he chose for its motto and symbol a verse from this week’s parasha: “And the bush was not consumed (Exodus 3:2).” I believe he intended to convey thereby his conviction in the eternity of Judaism. It would not perish in the new world as it had not perished in the old, because its power derived not from numbers or wealth, but from the spirit. As a center of Torah, the Seminary would fortify that spirit with a large measure of truthful piety.

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Shemot

Shemot

Jan 1, 1980

6 [In days] to come Jacob shall strike root,
Israel shall sprout and blossom,
And the face of the world
Shall be covered with fruit.

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Shemot

Shemot

Jan 1, 1980

1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each coming with his household:

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