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Wine

The Original Reason for Spilling Wine: Protection from the Plagues

R. Eleazar of Worms in the 12th century, defended the practice of spilling wine when reciting the plagues against detractors who disparaged it, by offering a mystical, numerological rationale. This, however, was a post-facto attempt to explain a folk custom, whose origins lie in the human fear of being struck by these very plagues.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Spilling Wine While Reciting the Plagues “To Diminish Our Joy”?

The popular Jewish custom to remove drops of wine while listing the plagues goes back to the Middle Ages, but the ubiquitous explanation that we do this out of sadness for what happened to the Egyptians does not. When did this explanation develop and how did it become so dominant?

Dr. Rabbi

Zvi Ron

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How the Temple Scroll Rewrote the Festival of Bikkurim

Throughout the Bible, we find that the land of Israel is blessed with grain, wine, and oil (דגן, תירוש, ויצהר). In the Torah, however, the festival of Bikkurim, “First Produce,” only celebrates the wheat harvest. In Qumran, the Essenes rewrote the biblical festival calendar to include two further bikkurim festivals to celebrate wine and oil.[1] 

Prof.

Marvin A. Sweeney

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Lot and His Daughters' Motives for Their Incestuous Union

Genesis Rabbah surprisingly portrays Lot’s daughters and their choices in a decidedly positive light, while exacerbating Lot’s culpability.

Dr.

Shayna Sheinfeld

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The Color of Judah's Eyes

חכלילי עינים מיין (Gen 49:12) is an obscure phrase. In contrast to the standard interpretation, Nachmanides’ offered an original interpretation, which finds support in modern linguistic analysis and an archaeological find.

Prof.

Aaron Demsky

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The Wood Offering Celebration – "As Written in the Torah"

Bringing wood for the altar was an important celebration in Second Temple times. To ground this practice in the Torah, Nehemiah (10:35) describes it as a Torah law, while the Temple Scroll (11Q19) and the Reworked Pentateuch (4Q365) include it in their biblical festival calendar.

Dr.

Alex P. Jassen

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Shekhar: Is it Wine or Beer?

The nazir must abstain from shekhar (שֵׁכָר), and it must be poured on the altar as a libation – but what is it? Understanding the ecology of ancient Israel can help answer the question.

Dr.

Elaine Goodfriend

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The Story of Naboth’s Vineyard and the Ancient Winery in Jezreel

What light can archaeology shed on the significance and location of the vineyard?

Dr.

Norma Franklin

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Noah's Original Identity: The First Winemaker

Before Noah became the protagonist of the Israelite flood story, his original place in Israelite historiography was as the ancient farmer who discovered wine, bringing the world relief from the toil of work caused by God’s cursing the soil.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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