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Prayer

The Quran’s Lesson from the Shema: Direct Your Heart to God

The Quran makes multiple intertextual connections with the Shema and its rabbinic commentary in its qiblah (“direction”) passages, thus highlighting a point of agreement between Jews and Muslims: Prayer is not about the physical direction you face but about loving God with all your heart.

Dr.

Abdulla Galadari

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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...” (Isa 6:3) and “Blessed be the Glory of the Lord from its place” (Ezek 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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On Sacrifices and Life: Wholeness Dismembered but Re-membered

A burnt offering, must be whole (תמים), after which it is dismembered (נתוח) and offered to YHWH. In the wake of the loss of my parents, I have come to appreciate how this process mirrors the creation story and life.

Prof.

Wendy Zierler

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Yom Kippur’s Seder Avodah Begins with God’s Creation of the World

Arguably, the highlight of the prayer service on Yom Kippur is the Seder Avodah, a type of piyyut (liturgical hymn) that poetically reenacts in every detail the ritual service performed by the high priest on Yom Kippur in the Jerusalem Temple. But why do these poems begin with the creation story?

Prof. Rabbi

Dalia Marx

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Reciting Ready-Made Prayers in Biblical Times and Today

The haftarah (prophetic reading) for the first day of Rosh Hashanah features Channah's two prayers. In the second prayer, she thanks God for the birth of Samuel by reciting a ready made royal hymn about defeating one's enemies, hardly relevant to her situation. Why does the Bible choose such a prayer and how might this help us better understand prayer in the context of the contemporary Rosh Hashanah?

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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Tisha B'Av with Queen Esther

Prof. Rabbi

Laura Lieber

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Aleinu: God of All, or God of the Jews?

The Aleinu prayer begins, עלינו לשבח לאדון הכל, “It is for us to praise the Master of all,” which creates theological tension: If God is presented here as the Master of all, why is it only Jews who are to praise God?

Prof. Rabbi

Reuven Kimelman

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"Let Me Flee to My Helper": A Rosh Hashanah Love Poem

Yose ben Yose’s 4th century CE piyyut for the shofarot service, and its creative use of the Song of Songs.

Prof. Rabbi

Laura Lieber

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How Much Forgiveness Can We Expect From God?

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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The Status of the Decalogue

Rabbi

David Bigman

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A Monogamous Isaac Prays for His Barren Wife

Midrash Chad Shenati, discovered in the Cairo Genizah, criticizes Abraham for not praying for Sarah and praises Isaac for praying for Rebekah, and gives Rebekah pride of place in its homiletic exposition of the parasha.

Dr.

Shana Strauch-Schick

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Dr.

Moshe Lavee

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What Is Isaac Doing in the Field When He Encounters Rebecca?

The term לשוח is a hapax legomenon (a term that appears only once in the Bible). What does it mean?

Prof.

Aaron Demsky

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Zichronot: Asking an Omniscient God to Remember

Do we really want God to remember all that we did?

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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Channa's Unconventional Prayer

Bringing "Different Voices" from the Margin to the Center of Religious Life

Dr.

Tova Hartman

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Turning Jeremiah's Land Deed Into an Oracle of Hope

Jeremiah 32 describes the prophet’s redemption of his uncle’s ancestral land. The scribal authors turned this transaction into an oracle. Eventually, the passage was expanded to include a prayer in which Jeremiah invokes the exodus from Egypt and the gift of the land. Taken together, the passage inspires hope for exilic Jews that God will redeem their land as well.

Prof.

Mark Leuchter

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The Piyyut (Poem) Akdamut Milin

The Enigma and Perseverance of Tradition

Prof. Rabbi

Laura Lieber

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In Search of the Soul: Between Torah and Science

A pediatric neurologist searches for the soul through the lens of current neuroscience.

Dr.

Joel Yehudah Rutman

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A Torah-Prescribed Liturgy: The Declaration of the First Fruits

A look at the Torah and Mishnah’s treatment of the mitzvah of bringing bikkurim (first fruits) to the Temple and its associated requirement to recite a historical confession through five prisms: phenomenological, historical, anthropological, feminist and liturgical.[1]

Prof. Rabbi

Dalia Marx

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Jonah's Recalcitrant Prayer

Why God Repeats his Command to Jonah a Second Time

Prof. Rabbi

Jonathan Magonet

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The Significance of Kol Nidre: A Footnote

How a provoking and problematic Aramaic prayer continues to mesmerize so many Jews every Yom Kippur.

Prof.

René Bloch

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The Origins and Use of the 613 Mitzvot

The development of the idea that the Torah has 613 mitzvot: From Talmudic aggada, to geonic liturgy, to medieval enumerations.

Dr.

Marc Herman

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The Shema's Second Paragraph: Concern Over Israel's Affluence

Deuteronomy 11 repeats, reworks, and supplements the core phrases and themes of the Shema paragraph in Deuteronomy 6 in order to teach the Israelites how to deal with one of their major future challenges: the temptations that accompany wealth, comfort, and affluence. 

Prof. Rabbi

Reuven Kimelman

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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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The Subversive Kaddish

The Mourner's Kaddish strengthens the connection of living Jews with their deceased relatives. The custom was developed by twelfth century Ashkenazi Jews as a way of saving their loved ones from Gehenna (hell) and making heaven available to all.[1]

Dr.

David Shyovitz

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Moses' Apotropaic Intercession

Moses’ use of rhetoric to convince YHWH to undo his decree against Israel recasts ANE ritual intercessions such as the namburbu in a prophetic hue.

Dr.

Marian Broida

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לכו נרננה From the Story of the Spies to the return of the Judahite exiles

A New Reading of Psalm 95

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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Biblical Exegesis as a Source of Jewish Pluralism: The Case of the Karaites

Karaism is often characterized by its rejection of the Talmud in favor of a super-literalist interpretation of the Torah. But Karaism is better understood as an alternate, parallel form of Judaism based on the Bible.

Prof.

Daniel J. Lasker

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