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Shema

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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When Did the Bible Become Monotheistic?

It is often said that monotheism is one of Judaism’s greatest contributions to Western culture; however, it is far from clear that the Hebrew Bible is monotheistic. What is monotheism and when did it first develop?

Prof.

Kenneth Seeskin

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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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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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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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The Shema's Second Paragraph: An Inner-Biblical Interpretation

The second paragraph of Shema (Deut 11:13-21) has significant overlaps with the first (Deut 6:4-9), including some identical phrases and core concepts. It was likely written as a later elaboration of the first, a process that may reflect the earliest stages of the Shema becoming a central text.

Prof.

Marc Zvi Brettler

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Torah: Deuteronomy's Version of Wisdom for Israel

Deuteronomy reflects influence from ancient Wisdom traditions, such as those in the book of Proverbs and in other ancient Near Eastern literature. Yet Deuteronomy presents Torah as Israel’s own Wisdom teaching. This serves both to elevate Torah and to insist that it be in dialogue with the broader, non-Israelite world.

Dr.

Ethan Schwartz

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The Origins of Tefillin

How a biblical metaphor was reinterpreted in light of a practice of wearing amulets for bodily protection.

Dr.

Yehudah Cohn

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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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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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Torah Study Is Essential for Ensuring Observance

To uphold the covenant, Deuteronomy requires two forms of torah study: Learning the commandments and learning the reasons for keeping them. But what happens if even that fails?

Dr.

Baruch Alster

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