Category: Midrash

Hebrew for “delving,” specifically of a religious text. In this context, the text is also life.

Midrash Noach

DESPITE THE ALLURING INTRICACIES OF Mosaic law of the past few months, it’s nice to be once again studying the Torah’s classic origin tales. This week we see a sea change (literally) in the way humans relate to their world…

365 Names: Providence

PROVIDENCE literally means “that which/one Who provides.” It’s a comfortable and comforting image: G?d as Supplier of Necessities. For some reason, it pops up a lot in 18th- and 19th-Century literature and life, including as a proper name. Perhaps it’s…

First Graf: The Jewish Catalog

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE COUNTER-CULTURAL agents of the 1960s (re)discovered their Yiddishkeit (Jewishness)? A trio of them (and many others) produced the now-classic The Jewish Catalog: a do-it-yourself kit. As the subtitle implies, the book is chock-full of homemade ways…

“Tzom B’kavanna!”

A TRADITIONAL PRE-YOM KIPPUR ADMONITION is “tzom kal (have an easy fast)” But as a friend in an online forum once pointed out, “easy” misses the point. A proper Yom Kippur fast should be difficult; examining your past year’s mistakes…

Chosenness as Motivator

ONE OF THE MORE CONTROVERSIAL aspects of traditional Judaism is the idea that “Jews are the Chosen People.” Some (both Jew and non-Jew) take this to mean “superior” in some way (I’m looking at you, Grandma), and use it as…

Happy 5779!

MAY YOU HAVE A SWEET, joyous, happy and rewarding New Year! And may your resolutions not prove too daunting; on reflection, may you not bog down in a swamp of self-recrimination. As the Talmud says, “All beginnings are difficult.” And…

365 Names of God: El Shaddai

EL SHADDAI is the name used primarily by the Biblical Patriarchs, usually translated as “God Almighty” and focusing on the deity’s providential or nurturing aspect. Scholars differ over whether “Shaddai” is cognate with similar Phoenician or Ugaritic words for mountains,…

The Torah can be taken, among other things, as a ‘polyphonic’ text, or a loose anthology of competing claims regarding the legal stipulations of the covenant. The edited Torah, following this approach, was not meant to be read as a practical and coherent handbook on how to carry out the law, but as a collage of competing understandings of the requirements of the covenant.

— Rabbi David Frankel