Jewish History

Chukat: Moses was Here!(?)

Chukat: Moses was Here!(?)
The entire congregation of the children of Israel arrived at the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people settled in Kadesh. … The congregation had no water; so they assembled against Moses and Aaron.  (Numbers 20:1-2). &... Continue Reading »

Jefferson and Korach: Is Rebellion "Good for the Jews?"

Jefferson and Korach: Is Rebellion "Good for the Jews?"
Discussing Shay’s Rebellion (an armed insurrection by Western Massachusetts farmers) in a 1787 letter to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson wrote: Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.  (‘I prefer the tumult of l... Continue Reading »

Shelach: Cutting the Cord?

Shelach: Cutting the Cord?
When Jews recite the Sh'ma and V'ahavtah, our custom is to gather the tassels (tzizit) of our Tallit and recite aloud the following verse from this week’s parasha, Shelach, (among others):  דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְ... Continue Reading »

New Adult Ed Class Begins This Thursday

New Adult Ed Class Begins This Thursday

NEW ADULT EDUCATION CLASS FOR PASSOVER Thursdays, March 14 & 21, 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Tikvah, Fullerton, CA.  How have Jews understood the Passover narrative? Since “The Torah has seventy faces,” (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:15), there’s no “correct” interpretation. Even so, various approaches have dominated at different times in our history, reflecting the circumstances in which we have found ourselves. We will sample such major genres as: MidrashP’shat (rational/contextual), PaRDeS, and Kabbalah. Enrich your Passover Seder(s), future Bible (Torah/Tan”akh) study, and your understanding of Jewish history and cultural traditions! Please call Temple office at (714) 871-3535 or email tbtaa@sbcglobal.net to RSVP. 

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Hanukah's Message

Hanukah's Message

In recent years at this time, I have researched the story of Hanukah, dressed up as Simon Ben Mattathias to give “dramatic historical presentations” at synagogues, and even lectured about Hanukah aboard cruise ships.  This year, I’m doing something quite different … 

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Ki Tavo: An Authentic Non-Torah Judaism?

Ki Tavo: An Authentic Non-Torah Judaism?

 

Every Passover – our ancient and most conspicuous celebration of Jewish history -- I can’t help but notice something extraordinary about the summary historical narrative that comes right out of this week’s Torah portion: “My father was a fugitive Aramean...."  

 

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Tisha B'Av: Not Just for the Orthodox!

Tisha B'Av: Not Just for the Orthodox!

We all know that much “history” – what happened during andbefore our lifetimes -- greatly affects “who we are” and how we self-identify.   Yet, fewof us consciously define our lives in an expressly historical way.   Unlesswe experienced a traumatic or clearly life-changing event, we don’t say or eventhink “I am who I am because of what happened.” Nor do we think or say, “I am a link in a chain of many generations.”  But doing so would likely enrich the meaning inand of our lives.  In this week’s Torah portion, Devarim, the first inDeuteronomy, Moses knows that he is soon to die.  How does he begin his last oration?  Rather than praising G-d or reiterating theCommandments, he begins with a narrative history of Israel’s experiencessince receiving the Commandments.  Perhapshe realizes that to ensure the future of the “Jewish people,” his mostimportant task is to ensure that they don’t forget theirpast –especially the bitter parts.

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Chukkat: Facing Our Fears

Chukkat: Facing Our Fears
The image of one or two snakes coiled around a staff is the familiar symbol of the medical profession. Depicted in several variations, it is called the “Caduceus,” the “Rod of Asclepius,” or “Hermes’s staff,” and dates from Greek mythology.   But we Jews have a much older tradition of a serpent on a staff.  It appears in this week’s Torah portion, Chukkat, and evidently played a significant part in our history for at least half a millennium.  By looking at it psychologically, we can continue to derive deep significance for our lives.

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Response to LA Times Op-Ed "Six days, 45 years later"

Response to LA Times Op-Ed "Six days, 45 years later"

Letter to the LA Times Editor: Miko Peled’s Op-Ed “Six days, 45 years later” (6/6/12) is highly misleading.   While opposing the policies and decisions of one’s government, past and present, on principle is perfectly legitimate and even noble, spreading hateful misinformation in the guise of “activism” is unconscionable.   As the son of an Israeli general, Peled surely knows that the Arabs, not Israel, are primarily to blame for the Palestinian refugee situation, for the “occupation” and most of its unfortunately necessary evils, and for the fact that there is still no Palestinian state.   Yet his Op-Ed is little more than vituperative Palestinian propaganda against Israel.  He has either forgotten the history he learned in school or is determined to ignore it.   Those who seek a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should do neither. At the end of WWI, ... 

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Jun 07

Independence Days: 1840 and 2012

Independence Days: 1840 and 2012

The Jerusalem (N.Y.) Gazette

July 4, 1840

Strike Up the Band! Our glorious nation is 64 years young today!  It’s a day to celebrate and to reflect in amazement and gratitude on the miraculous feat wrought by God through our brave predecessors!  With  unmeasured sacrifice and valor, the Greatest Generation rose up against tyranny, defeated the mightiest army on earth, and established a new republic conceived in liberty. 

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Jewish Proverb