Making Meat

Making Meat

Apr 21, 2017 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Shemini

Dr. Mark Post of the University of Maastricht stunned the world several summers ago by producing the most expensive burger in history. Working from stem cells taken from a live cow, his team cultured muscle tissue that they then turned into an edible product resembling ground beef. Amongst all the specifications for kosher animals in this week’s parashah, lab-grown meat is unsurprisingly absent. Jews therefore want to know—is it kosher? Could it even be pareve?

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The Freshest Grain

The Freshest Grain

Mar 31, 2017 By Ofra Backenroth | Commentary | Vayikra | Shavuot

In a long narrative dedicated to sacrifices we find one hidden command to offer only the freshest and best grains, mixed with oils and scents. Through a multi sensory description the reader can sense the heavy kernels of grains, smell the scents, and vicariously participate in the powerful event of giving thanks to God with the offering of the first fruit.

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Wonderment and Order: A Path to the Heart

Wonderment and Order: A Path to the Heart

Mar 24, 2017 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Pekudei | Vayak-hel

The Baal Shem Tov posed a question about Parashat Pekudei that I too find most puzzling. Why are we told over and over again—10 times in the course of Exodus chapters 39–40, by my count, in addition to a declaration at the start of Parashat Vayak-hel (35:4)—that the Israelites did all they did for the Tabernacle, gave what they gave, built what they built, “as the Lord had commanded Moses.” Why not just tell us once, at the end of the account, that all they did was done in this way, for this purpose? 

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A Ladder to the Heavens

A Ladder to the Heavens

Dec 9, 2016 By Tim Daniel Bernard | Commentary | Vayetzei

As Jacob sleeps, he sees a ladder with its base on the ground and its top touching the heavens (Gen. 28:12). The seemingly unreachable realm above the earth, Jacob discovers, is actually relatively accessible, almost within our grasp. The images from the Hubble Space Telescope—and space exploration more broadly—play a similar role for us. One might have expected that humanity’s newly found ability to discover more about space would have blunted our sense of wonder, as more and more of the universe ceases to be so mysterious.

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Experiencing the Light of Torah

Experiencing the Light of Torah

Aug 19, 2016 By Nicole Wilson-Spiro | Commentary | Va'et-hannan

This summer I returned to Jewish overnight camp after a 15-year hiatus. After all this time, s’mores, a love of cheering in unison (has the cheering gotten louder or am I older?), and earnest, hard-working counselors (I was one, once) are still to be found at camp. I am happy to report that the food is now much, much better than I remembered, and the supervision and attention to camper care have improved vastly, as well.

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How Many Harvests

How Many Harvests

May 27, 2016 By Joel Alter | Commentary | Behar

In its radical reframing of our right to claim ownership of anything and anyone, Parashat Behar sets our mortality against God’s eternality, and our contingent lease to the Land against God’s permanent deed: “The Land must not be sold beyond reclaim, for the Land is Mine; you are but strangers resident with Me” (Lev. 25:23).

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Rituals and Ethics in our Food

Rituals and Ethics in our Food

Nov 27, 2010 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Vayeshev

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than forty-five million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving. In 2010, more than 242 million turkeys are being raised with an average liveweight per bird of twenty-eight pounds. By contrast, in 1970, only 105 million birds were raised, with an average liveweight of seventeen pounds.

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The Cycles of Nature

The Cycles of Nature

May 7, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Emor

A midrash for any attorney or accountant to love, the last line of which already rings with the oy vey iz mir tone which has come down to us via Tevye and Seinfeld as a quintessentially Jewish mode of wry humor.

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