Jewish Holidays

Pesach's Socialist Message

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”  What might this phrase, a slogan usually associated with Karl Marx, albeit with much older antecedents[1], have to due to Pesach? Socialism/communism’s fundamental goal was t... Continue Reading »

Ki Tetze: Confessions of an Unrepentant Sinner

The “Ten Days of Repentance” ("High Holy Days") are rapidly approaching, but I already know that they offer me less than complete repentance for my sins.I know this because I am, and will remain for the rest of my life, an unrepentant sinner. I know ... Continue Reading »

Ve'etchanan: "Handling" the Truth

Ve'etchanan: "Handling" the Truth
“Opium of the Masses” [das Opium des Volkes] is how Karl Marx famously (or infamously, depending upon one’s perspective) referred to religion, although the phrase did not originate with him.     His philosophy... Continue Reading »

Tisha B'Av Observance? Learn and Decide!

Tisha B'Av Observance?  Learn and Decide!
Tisha B’Av (Ninth Day of the Month of Av) – the culmination of the "three weeks" and the saddest day of the Jewish year -- commemorates numerous tragedies in Jewish history.  It occurs this year on July 25th.... Continue Reading »

Shavuot: Learn, Baby, Learn!

Shavuot: Learn, Baby, Learn!
Poor Shavuot!  It is surely the “Rodney Dangerfield” of major Jewish holidays. Yes, of major Jewish holidays. The Torah commands us to celebrate three pilgrimage festivals; Pesach, Sukkot, and Shavuot.  But Shavuot gets short... Continue Reading »

Behar/Emor: Consistently Inconsistent

Behar/Emor: Consistently Inconsistent
I’ve returned to Israel, where this week’s Torah reading is B’har. Back in America, though – and everywhere in the Diaspora, – this week’s Torah portion is Emor, which was read last week here.   The diverge... Continue Reading »

B'reshit: In the (New) Beginning, the Holidays Were Over!

B'reshit: In the (New) Beginning, the Holidays Were Over!
I’ve just returned from celebrating a raucous Shimini Azeret/Simchat Torah holiday (these are the same day in Israel) in Efrat, the only town (pop. about 10,000) among smaller enclaves in the Gush Etzion “block” of Jewish settlement... Continue Reading »

Mi’yom l’yom: A Holocaust-Independence Day “Connection”?

Mi’yom l’yom: A Holocaust-Independence Day “Connection”?
As the current eight-day interval between Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’azmaut (Israeli Independence Day) began earlier this week, I found myself pondering the validity and, if valid, the meaning of the following “sim... Continue Reading »

Pesach: Putting the Exodus on Trial

Pesach: Putting the Exodus on Trial
Lawyers will tell you that cases are often won or lost depending on which evidentiary standard, or “burden of proof,” applies.    In American criminal trials, the prosecutor must prove the accused guilty “beyond a reaso... Continue Reading »

Sukkot: Your contribution to Jewish continuity.

Sukkot: Your contribution to Jewish continuity.
As we assembled our arba minim (four species) to waive the lulav and etrog in six directions, the rabbi said: “If I weren’t Jewish, I would think this is a crazy ritual.  But the more things Jews do that are different from non-J... Continue Reading »
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If charity cost nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists.
Jewish Proverb