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Rachel Weeps in Ramah: Of All the Patriarchs, God Listens Only to Her

Rachel weeps over her exiled descendants and God hears her plea (Jer 31:14–16). Expanding on this passage, the rabbis in Midrash Eichah Rabbah envision Jeremiah awakening the patriarchs and Moses to plead with God to have mercy on Israel. Upon their failure to move God, the matriarch Rachel intervenes successfully.

Prof.

Hagith Sivan

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Tum’ah: Ritual Impurity or Fear of Contagious Disease?

Already in the early 2nd millennium B.C.E., people knew that diseases were contagious, and fear of contagion plays a key role in the Torah’s laws regarding the skin ailment, tzaraʿat. What does this mean for understanding other kinds of tum’ah?

Dr.

Yitzhaq Feder

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Atoning for the Golden Calf with the Kapporet

Atop the kappōret, the ark’s cover, sat the golden cherubim, which framed the empty space (tokh) where God would speak with Moses. Drawing on the connection between the word kappōret and the root כ.פ.ר (“atone”), and noting how the golden calf episode interrupts the Tabernacle account, the rabbis suggest that the ark cover served as a means of atoning for the Israelites’ collective sin.

Dr.

Rachel Adelman

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Lamentations in Seasonal Context

The reading of Lamentations on Tisha b’Av functions both as the climax of the three weeks of mourning and the beginning of the seven weeks of conciliation, which leads us into the High Holidays.[1]

Dr.

Elsie R. Stern

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The Practice of Divination in the Ancient Near East

Locating the Presence of Gods in Cult and Nature

Dr.

Uri Gabbay

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The Gender of God

What is the gender of the God of creation? Of YHWH in general?[1]

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz: Torah from Sinai as a Normative Statement

Prof.

Tamar Ross

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Standing Under Sinai: On the Origins of a Coerced Covenant

Tracing the tannaitic and biblical sources for the famous claim that God held Mount Sinai over the Israelites and threatened to bury them if they did not accept the Torah.

Dr.

Tzvi Novick

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Torat Emet: Our People's Torah

Dr. Rabbi

Amy Eilberg

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Torah from Heaven: Redefining the Question

Many Orthodox Jews believe that God composed the Torah, and feel no need to inquire further.  Nevertheless, it does occurs to me to inquire further, and find a respectful answer to the question of how people, including myself, come to this belief. An honest question beats a dishonest answer, even if the dishonest answer produces much more comfort. And while I enjoy feeling comfortable, I would not want to stay comfortable by not thinking about problems.

Dr. Rabbi

Eliezer Finkelman

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A More Religious Megillah: The Jewish-Greek Version of Esther

The Jewish-Greek Version of the Book of Esther and what it tells us about Jewish Identity in Ancient Times.

Prof.

Aaron Koller

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God's Flaming Fiery Anger

Dr.

Deena Grant

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Shema Yisrael: In What Way Is "YHWH One"?

The Shema has many interpretations, philosophical, eschatological, national, etc. A historical-critical way to understand the Shema is to read it (and Deuteronomy more broadly) against the backdrop of Assyrian domination, when Assyria touted their god Ashur as the supreme master of the world.

Rabbi

Daniel M. Zucker

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Torat Emet: A Torah that Truly Continues to Sustain

Dr. Rabbi

Daniel Gordis

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The Mitzvah to Love God: Shadal's Polemic against the Philosophical Interpretation

Philosophically inclined rabbis, such as Maimonides, attempted to understand the mitzvah to love God in Aristotelian terms, imagining God as a non-anthropomorphic abstract being. Shadal argues that this elitist approach twists both Torah and philosophy, and in its place, he offers a moralistic approach that can be achieved by all Jews.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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My Name Is Yoel, I Am a Satmar Hasid and a Bible Critic

Sharing his religious journey into biblical scholarship, a young married Hasidic man challenges the Modern Orthodox world to lead where his community cannot. 

Yoel S.

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Bringing It All Together: The Interactive Paradigm of Divine-Human Relations & Conclusion

Prof.

Tamar Ross

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The Incident of Nadav and Avihu

A Mysterious Transgression or a Mysterious Deity?

Prof.

Edward L. Greenstein

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Megillat Esther: A Godless and Assimilated Diaspora

Dr.

Elsie R. Stern

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How did Abraham Discover God? The Experiential Approach

Part 1 concluded by raising some questions about Maimonides’ rationalistic reading of the Parable of the Illuminated Fortress. In Part 2 we will now deal with alternative interpretations based on the idea of an experiential, living relationship with God.

Dr. Rabbi

Seth (Avi) Kadish

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Akeda and Rosh Hashanah: Invoking the Original Oath God Was Forced to Make

Prof. Rabbi

David R. Blumenthal

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Relating to God in Calamity

The Approaches in Lamentations

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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The Problem of Relativism and Rav Kook's Concept of "Perfectible Perfection"

Prof.

Tamar Ross

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How did Abraham Discover God? The Rationalistic Approach

A single midrash on Parashat Lekh Lekha manages to touch upon the existence of God and how to relate to Him, on the tension between Torah and science, and on rabbinic criticism of Maimonides’ thirteen principles. 

Dr. Rabbi

Seth (Avi) Kadish

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Traditional Concepts of God and Kabbalistic Interpretation: An Overview

Prof.

Tamar Ross

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Modern Faith in Sinai

Notwithstanding modern day biblical critical and historical critical claims, applying the tools of contemporary philosophy demonstrates how room still exists to have faith that something extraordinary happened to our ancestors and that this event had a permanent effect on the development of Torah and Judaism.

Dr. Rabbi

Samuel Lebens

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Voices in Lamentations: Dialogues in Trauma

Prof.

Edward L. Greenstein

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The Cherubim: Their Role on the Ark in the Holy of Holies

Tradition has interpreted the Cherubs to represent anything from a child to a man, woman to an angel, from a bird to a Torah scholar. Ancient Near Eastern evidence answers this uncertainty, or at least tells us what the Cherubim originally meant.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Entering the Spiritual Seder Bubble

Prof.

Tamar Ross

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The Doctrine of “Tzimtzum Shelo Kepshuto” and Its Power

Prof.

Tamar Ross

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Deuteronomy on the Problem of Using the Senses to Experience God

“God has not given you a mind to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear until this very day” (Deut 29:3).

Prof.

Steven Weitzman

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God, Israelites and Non-Israelites: Embracing Ambivalence

A postmodern look at Parashat Ekev’s view on God’s role in politics, the challenge of monotheism in biblical times, and the relative positions of Israel and her neighbors in God’s eyes.

Prof.

Adele Reinhartz

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Why Devarim Matters to Jews Today

It Is Very Close to You

Shoshana Cohen

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In the Presence of God

The Difference between God’s “Name (שם)” and “Presence (כבוד)”

Dr.

Michael Carasik

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Authority Needs Language

By erasing the boundaries between Written and Oral Torah, and removing any clear content from God’s revelation of law, Sommer undermines the concept of authoritative halakha that he wishes to refine.

Prof.

Sam Fleischacker

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YHWH: The God that Is vs. the God that Becomes

The meaning of God’s names, especially YHWH, is central to Jewish theology. Two approaches have dominated: the philosophical, focusing on God’s essence (“being”) and the kabbalistic, focusing on God’s evolving relationship with Israel (“becoming”). Some modern thinkers such as Malbim and Heschel have looked for new syntheses or formulations.

Prof.

James A. Diamond

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The Multifaceted Revelation at Sinai

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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