What Does the Exodus Have to Do With It?

Usually, we classify the mitzvot, commandments, of the Torah into commandments that pertain to our relationship with Hashem and commandments that pertain to our relationship with other people. There are some who had a third category, the commandments that govern the relationship between body and soul, in other relationship with the self. When we think about the commandment to remember the Exodus, we would be inclined to define it as being ...

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Divine Destiny and Egyptian Guilt

One of the famous questions that is asked regarding the Exodus from Egypt and the whole issue of the slavery of the Jews in Egypt is that, indeed G-d had actually told Abraham that his children would be slaves in a foreign land, he predicted the exile, He said the Jews would be enslaved. If so, the commentaries ask, then the Egyptians should not get punished, because they were fulfilling ...

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The Old-New Shul in Prague

Whitewashing History in 2019

I recently gave a class on a Thursday night at a shul in Monsey on Forshay Road.  Tragically, that was next door to the site of a horrific anti-Semitic attack this Chanukah.  I taught using some ideas from two great Rabbis of Prague, the Maharal and Rabbi Yechezkel Landau (Noda BiYehudah). Prague was an extraordinary center of the Jewish community and Jewish learning.  In Prague, the Altneu Shul, has been ...

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Jewish Beauty and Greek Beauty

According to the Getty Museum ancient sculptors used canons—sets of “perfect” mathematical ratios and proportions—to depict the human form. The earliest known canons were developed by the Egyptians, whose grid-based proportions influenced Greek sculptors in the Archaic period (700–480 B.C.). Over time, sculptors and painters sought to create a canon that would allow them to depict the perfect human body—not a body based on a real person but a body ...

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Chanuka is Not the Fourth of July

  Many people think that Chanukah is type of a festival of political independence, freedom fighters, patriots, something like a July 4th, or whatever, Jews fighting for political independence against the Greek Empire, or something to that effect. In truth, Chanukah is really a clash of cultures. It was the Hellenistic world view versus the Jewish world view. And these two cultures were diametrically opposed. The Greeks were bothered by the very ...

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