Jewish History

A Passover Pilgrimage of the Mind

A Passover Pilgrimage of the Mind

The drive from Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv up into Jerusalem takes only about 35 minutes in non-rush hour traffic.  After initially crossing the coastal plain, one begins the steady climb of about 2,500 feet into the Judean Hills.  I always watch across the highway for a glimpse of the slowly-disintegrating personnel carriers left rusting as memorials to the soldiers and civilians who died there during the 1948 War of Independence.  Then, I scan the hills for the first glimpse of the “Chords Bridge” tower that now marks the principal entry into the Holy City.  All the while, as my vehicle (usually a van-taxi) downshifts up the mountain, I marvel at the thought of my ancestors leaving their homes and making this laborious and dusty ascent by foot or donkey three times each year.  The book of Deuteronomy

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Ki Tissa: Moses’ Horns: Not a Mistranslation

Ki Tissa: Moses’ Horns: Not a Mistranslation

This week’s Torah portion contains one of the most fateful words in the history of the Jewish people!  That word is קרן “keren.”  ...   In the 4th century, St. Jerome translated the Bible from Hebrew into Latin.  His translation eventually became the official version of the Roman Catholic Church.  According to this week’s parashah, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai bearing the two tablets in his hand, he didn’t know that קָרַן עוֹר פָּנָיו בְּדַבְּרוֹ אִתּוֹ.”   Jerome translated this phrase into Latin as “cornuta esset facies sua ex consortio sermonis Dei” – “his face was horned from the conversation with the Lord.” 

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Feast or Fast? The Politics of Purim

Feast or Fast? The Politics of Purim
Today (Wednesday, March 7, 2012), the thirteenth day of the Hebrew month of Adar, is תענית אסתר: the "Fast of Esther."  Traditionally, by which I usually mean "as established by the rabbis of the Talmudic era," today is a day of fasting to commemorate Mordechai, Esther, and the Jewish people's fast in dreadful anticipation of the impending attack by the Persian populace. But before today's date became the "Fast of Esther," it was a day of great celebration!  Like Purim, it commemorated Jewish salvation from imminent threat of extermination.   It was then called "Nicanor's Day." 
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A bird that you set free may be caught again, but a word that escapes your lips will not return.
Jewish Proverb