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Angels

Cain, Son of the Fallen Angel Samael

What made Cain capable of murdering his brother? Why was the flood generation so wicked? According to Pirqei de-Rabbi Eliezer, the fallen angel Samael embodies the serpent and seduces Eve, whereupon she conceives Cain. Engendered by this “bad seed,” all the descendants of Cain become corrupt, destined to be wiped out by mighty waters.

Prof.

Rachel Adelman

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Yom Kippur: Afflicted but Angelic

Self-affliction and fasting heightens awareness of our bodies; at the same time, it helps us to transcend our immanent selves. This tension was embraced by the 6th century poet Yannai in his qerova, who beseaches God to forgive Israel both out of pity for their wretchedness and on account of their resemblance to angels.

Prof. Rabbi

Laura Lieber

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Kedushah: Did the Angels Actually Say It?

The Kedushah prayer is based on two quotes from angels: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts...” (Isaiah 6:3) and “Blessed be the Glory of the Lord from its place” (Ezekiel 3:12). However, Shadal, the 19th century polymath, explains that the second verse is not a quote by angels, but the result of a scribal error.

Prof.

Carl S. Ehrlich

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The Seraphim

The image of YHWH accompanied by a heavenly retinue (צבאות) is ubiquitous in the Prophets and the Writings. Uniquely, in Isaiah’s call narrative, YHWH appears before the prophet accompanied by six-winged seraphim. What are these heavenly beings?

Dr.

Richard Lederman

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Arousing the Truth with Malachi and the Piacezner Rebbe

Dr.

Aviva Gottlieb Zornberg

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Tikkunei Soferim and the Ironic Emendation of Rashi’s Interpretation

Do the rabbis believe that the scribes changed the wording of some verses in the Bible? A look at how the great medieval rabbi, Rashi, reacted to one “correction” sheds light on the history of the Jewish belief in the inviolability of the Torah text.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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The Portrayal of Abraham in The Testament of Abraham

Dr.

Malka Z. Simkovich

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Are There Gods, Angels, and Demons in Deuteronomy?

Several poetic verses in Deuteronomy were used in Second Temple times to support the belief in multiple characters in the divine realm. Thus, the scribes of the early Masoretic text, who opposed this belief, sometimes went so far as to revise or excise these references.

Prof.

Jonathan Ben-Dov

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On the Problem of Sacrifices: Maimonides’ Ladder of Enlightenment

Maimonides, in his Guide of the Perplexed, portrays sacrifices as a ruse to repudiate idolatrous practices prevalent at the time. In Mishneh Torah, however, Maimonides states that the messiah will rebuild the Temple and restore sacrifices just as they once were. How are Maimonides’ two works reconcilable?

Dr.

David Gillis

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Torah Narratives with Angels Never Actually Happened: Heretical or Sublime?

Maimonides believes that any story in the Bible with angels is a prophetic vision. Nahmanides calls this position “forbidden to believe” and claims they are real occurrences. Must the Torah be historically true or just philosophically?

Prof. Rabbi

David Frankel

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Who Was Samson’s Real Father?

Samson’s birth story deprecates Samson’s father, Manoah; this serves to highlight the identity of his real father: The angel of YHWH did more than announce Samson’s birth to Manoah’s wife.

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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God’s Appearance to Abraham: Vision or Visit?

Prof.

Ben-Zion Katz M.D.

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Reintroducing the Myth of the Fallen Angels into Judaism

Literature and art are replete with images of angels descending to earth and joining humanity. One source for this image is a terse account in Genesis describing fallen angels, which is expanded upon in Second Temple literature. This interpretive tradition is suppressed in the classic rabbinic literature only to resurface again in the late narrative midrash, Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer.

Prof.

Rachel Adelman

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Lernen, Davenen, and Identifying Orthodox

Lernen versus learning, davenen versus prayer: an ethnographic analysis of how Orthodox Jews define themselves.

Prof.

Samuel Heilman

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