Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky
STRONGER TOGETHER: At a time of deep community divisions, Hanukkah holds lessons on the power of unity
On our many trips to Israel, our family had never spent much time in Tel Aviv because most of our friends and relatives live...
Moed Kattan 28a אמר רבא: חיי, בני ומזוני, לא בזכותא תליא מילתא, אלא במזלא תליא מילתא. דהא רבה ורב חסדא תרוייהו רבנן צדיקי הוו, מר...
This Shabbat morning, with God’s help, Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn will be offering the drasha at B’nai David – Judea, the Orthodox shul of which...
Each time we hear of yet another heart-wrenching and infuriating agunah story, we tend to point an accusing finger at the Jewish legal system that has created these circumstances, in which spiteful, angry husbands can cynically abuse the divorce laws to extort and torment their wives.
Did Avraham attend Yitzchak’s wedding? Well, in the closest thing we have to a wedding description — right at the end of this parasha — Avraham is nowhere to be found. The servant who made the match is there, and the spirit of Sarah is there as she looms large in her son’s memory, but there’s no mention of Avraham.
The mind of the midrashist drifts effortlessly over the face of the Tanakh as verses from the Torah conjure up similar verses and phrases from other sacred books. Thus, our parasha’s descriptions of the thanksgiving offerings and the free-will offerings call to mind a phrase found in Psalm 50: “The one who sacrifices a thanksgiving offering honors me.”
With his brother Benjamin’s fate hanging in the balance, Yehuda “draws close” to the Egyptian viceroy (whose true identity is not yet known). Yehuda had sworn to his father he would return Benjamin safely to Canaan, but now Benjamin is facing confinement and servitude in Egypt.
The American Modern Orthodox community has just entered uncharted territory. Last week, our largest rabbinic organization, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) formally withdrew its support of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality).
Nature abhors a vacuum. And so do biblical stories.
One of the talents of our sages was their ability to simultaneously hold the text of the entire Torah in their minds. When they saw an unusual word or phrase in one week’s parasha, other appearances of that word or phrase, from elsewhere in the Torah, popped into their minds instantly. And the resultant swirl of contexts and usages ignited the great creative interpretive endeavor.
Back in grade school, the story of Yehuda and Tamar was always deemed too racy to teach. Our teacher skipped that one episode, and looking back it’s difficult to argue against the omission. Can you imagine explaining to elementary school students what a harlot is?
Why shoo away the mother bird before taking her eggs or chicks? The Torah doesn’t say why we are commanded to do this. There is a major school of Jewish thought that regards this omission as being quite deliberate. This is the school that produced the Mishnah’s teaching prohibiting a person from praying, “God, have mercy upon me just as You have mercy upon the bird in its nest.” This school presumes that God’s laws have no known rationale, and that we observe them simply in order to do His will. It argues that it is pretentious of us to assume that God is having mercy upon the mother bird, and by extension that feelings of compassion when performing this (or any) mitzvah would be misplaced.
Leviticus 19:1-20:27 Right there, in the shadow of the ever-popular \"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,\" another mitzvah quietly sits: \"Thou shall surely rebuke thy friend.\" And while this may seem rude or intrusive, the Torah regards the obligation of mutual rebuke as the engine of communal righteousness.
Parshat Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19) Were contributions toward the building of the Tabernacle voluntary or compulsory? Those of us who have stood before our communities during a building campaign have always tended to favor the latter option, as this makes for a more effective appeal. But the classical commentaries on the Torah -- presumably more objective in their approach to the question -- are rather evenly divided on it.
The story, of course, turns out to be one of reconciliation and not hostility. But the overarching lesson of the story is the one that played out in Jacob\'s mind and soul. The way up in life is to firmly commit ourselves to a self-identity of spiritual and moral excellence, and then to demand that we actually live the self-image we have created. It is true that our past errors will become magnified as a result, and our conscience will not remain silent. But this too is part of the way up.
It\'s not that I would want to see Jerusalem divided. It\'s rather that the time has come for honesty. Their call to handcuff the government of Israel in this way, their call to deprive it of this negotiating option, reveals that these organizations are not being honest about the situation that we are in, and how it came about. And I cannot support them in this.
Moshe was one of a kind. \"None ever rose again like Moshe.\" At the same time, in very powerful ways, Moshe and Miriam were two of a kind. Their personalities and passions overlapped generously. And despite being separated over decades during Moshe\'s extended sojourn in Midian, their destinies and their souls remained intertwined. When one of them left this world, the other descended into grief-stricken crisis.
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Jewish groups condemned the question as anti-Semitic.
The cartoonist has been accused of anti-Semitic drawings in the past.
The ban will be in place for 10 yeras.
"My university leadership team and I will continue to work determinedly to combat Antisemitism and unlawful behavior," the Florida State president said.