Light in the Window

Light in the Window

Oct 9, 2010 By Andrew Shugerman | Commentary | Text Study | Noah

How is prayer like a window or a gem? One early modern response to the midrash above answers that question with devotional creativity.

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Conquering Passions

Conquering Passions

Oct 28, 1995 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Noah

My favorite Jewish ritual is the recitation of havdalah at the end of Shabbat. It is a love rooted in childhood.

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The Quest for Righteousness

The Quest for Righteousness

Oct 16, 1993 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Noah

How quickly does God’s joy in creation turn to regret! In the space of a single parasha, in a matter of ten generations, humanity taints the earth with violence, turning paradise into perdition. 

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Salvation Through Moderation

Salvation Through Moderation

Oct 8, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Noah

Last week was a good week for the Seminary and Judaism: a new generation of incoming students arrived to study at one of its four New York schools. They number nearly 200 full-time students, including the largest entering classes ever in our Cantorial and Rabbinical Schools, 20 new masters students in Jewish education and 34 new undergraduates in List College. Many come with extensive Jewish education and from the finest universities in the U.S. and Canada. Above all, they are highly motivated, eager to fill their lives with Jewish content and purpose. Given half a chance when finished, this generation of students will serve the Jewish community for decades with an inspiring blend of idealism and competence.

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The Power of the Tzadik

The Power of the Tzadik

Oct 16, 1996 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Noah

Last month Columbia University Business School honored Aaron Feuerstein with its 1996 Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics. I attended the ceremony and was profoundly stirred.

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Morality and the Mind

Morality and the Mind

Oct 31, 1997 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Noah

But ten generations after Adam and Eve, we find God in despair over the unrelieved waywardness of humanity. Human depravity threatens to turn created order into primordial chaos. The Mishna (in Sanhedrin 10:3) declares the behavior of the generation of the flood to have been so reprehensible that it will be excluded for eternity from the world-to-come. Yet the Torah denies us any illustrative details, leaving a gap that begs for reader participation.

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The Laws of Noah

The Laws of Noah

Oct 24, 1998 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Noah

As the story of No·ah opens, the Torah returns to the word “elohim” for “God:” “When God saw how corrupt the earth was… God said to No·ah… (Genesis 6:12-13).” And with few exceptions (Genesis 7:1,5, 16; 8:21), this remains the term for God throughout. It is the same noun used by the Torah in chapter one to depict the creation of the cosmos. Unlike the four letter personal name of God – YHVH – (rendered as “the Lord” in the Jewish Publication Society’s translation of the Bible), elohim is a plural form and a generic term for deity that can also serve to refer to pagan gods.

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The Path to Repentance

The Path to Repentance

Oct 16, 1999 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Noah

The first eleven chapters of Genesis make for dismal reading. In contrast to the grandeur and harmony of the heavens, the primeval history of humanity is wracked with violence, one moral debacle after another. God quickly comes to regret the creation of unfettered sentient beings and decides to start over, though with no better results. Both before and after the flood, God concludes ruefully that the penchant of humankind to do evil is beyond dispute (6:5, 8:21). The second time, God chose to be more directive, explicitly forbidding murder and the ingesting of blood, while permitting the consumption of meat.

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