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Psalms

“Praise YHWH All You Nations”: Psalm 117

Short does not mean simple: Psalm 117 is one of the more difficult psalms. It is only two verses long and exhorts non-Israelites to praise YHWH. Why would such a psalm be written? A look at the worldview of the exilic prophet Deutero-Isaiah provides one answer, while reading this psalm together with the beginning of Psalm 118 provides another.

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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God Shelters the Faithful: The Prayer of Psalm 91

Psalm 91 expresses confidence that God will protect the righteous from plagues, demons, and wild animals, while allowing the wicked to perish. How are we to understand such language, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Prof.

Matthias Henze

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Encouraging Babylonian Jews to Return, Psalm 114 Tells a Unique Exodus Story

Psalm 114, a late psalm, is exceptional in its structure and content.  These tightly structured eight verses, which reflect several non-Torah traditions, use Egypt symbolically, to encourage the exiles to return from Babylonia.

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” — Jesus or Esther?

A midrash imagines Queen Esther reciting Psalm 22 the moment she was about to enter Ahasuerus' inner court. Are the rabbis responding to the Passion Narrative, in which Jesus, in his final moments, recites this lament on the cross?

Dr.

Abraham J. Berkovitz

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A Women’s Voice in the Psalter: A New Understanding of Psalm 113

The liturgical compilation Hallel (“praise”) opens with Psalm 113. Originally, this psalm was recited by women who gave birth after being barren, reminiscent of the song of Channah in 1 Samuel 2. A close look, however, suggests that its opening verses are a later supplement meant to introduce the larger Hallel collection.

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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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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Some Biblical Perspectives on the Haggadah

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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The Psalm of the Shofar: Its Use in Liturgy and its Meaning in the Bible

Prof.

Alan Cooper

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Seeking Torah, Seeking God: Psalm 119

Dr.

Shalom E. Holtz

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Ezekiel's Failure To Mention Shavuot

And the Re-imagining of the Harvest Festival in the Wake of the Babylonian Exile

Rabbi

Evan Hoffman

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Why Is the Torah Divided into Five Books?

The division of the Torah into five books is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, yet this division may be ancient and inherent. Already in Second Temple times, Philo speaks of it, and by the early first millenium C.E., the Torah became known by the Greek name, Pentateuch, literally, “five scrolls.” Is this division due to practical, thematic, or symbolic considerations?

Dr.

Elaine Goodfriend

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Reciting Psalm 30 on Chanukah: A Biblical Custom?

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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A Faith that Includes Doubt – Psalm 27

The psalm of the High Holiday season begins with the words “God is my light and my salvation,” moves to expressions of distress about God’s absence, and ends with a statement of hope. The psalm’s unexpected direction models the maturing of an authentic relationship with God.

Prof.

Benjamin D. Sommer

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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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