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Issue 7.4: Freedom

The first documented Jewish child to grapple with the nature of freedom did not do so through the luxuries of the “question-and-answer” style that typify the Seder night.  The child, Moshe, is born into a world of slavery, cast away by his parents at a young age, and raised in a foreigner’s home.  Though Moshe’s interactions with his new “Egyptian” family are not recorded in the Torah, one can  Read more →

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Latest Articles

A Double Book Review: A Comparison and a Contrast

  Two books in English about the history and current issues facing Israel have recently appeared.  Both Yossi Klein Halevi’s “Like Dreamers” and Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land” have received enthusiastic reviews.  While both books share a panoramic ... Read more →

Who Has the Last Word on God’s Word? “Not in Heaven” and the Oral Law

One of the most fundamental axioms of the rabbinic tradition in Judaism is that of the preeminence of the Oral Law over its Written counterpart. The halakhic system codified in the Talmud often makes little or no effort to reconcile its conclusions with the plain meanings of the Pentateuchal ... Read more →

Shattering Rock: Contemporary Approaches to Midrash

  The first midrash in Bereshit Rabbah begins somewhat unexpectedly with multiple explanations of a word in Proverbs.   R. Hoshaya began: “I was with Him as an amon[i] a source of delight every day, rejoicing before Him at all times.”[ii] The word amon means a “tutor.” Amon ... Read more →

Mashiah in Judaism and Christianity: First Base vs. Home Plate

Imagine a handsome teenager traveling home for a well-deserved vacation. After rushing through the airport, being hassled by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) about his tefillin, and making it to the gate just in time, he finally settles into his seat. Looking forward to a few ... Read more →

A Closer Look at the Legacy of Shabbetai Tzvi

On September 14th, 1666, a man named Shabbetai Tzvi was arrested and subsequently thrown into prison by the Turkish Sultan. The most infamous false Messiah of the middle ages, and possibly in all of Jewish history, Shabbetai Tzvi was widely believed by many Jews to be the chosen Messiah. ... Read more →

An Interview with Ruth Guggenheim, Executive Director Jews for Judaism

Ruth Guggenheim serves as the executive director for Jews for Judaism, an anti-missionary organization active on college campuses and in the wider Jewish community AS: Can you tell us a little about the history and mission of Jews for Judaism? RG: Jews for Judaism was founded 30 years ago and ... Read more →

Zionism and Israel, Exile and Redemption in the Thought and Deed of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

The dawn of Jewish history was not characterized by a philosophical imperative or ordinary deed. Instead, our beginnings were characterized by a destination. God’s first commandment to Avraham is a charge to travel, to “Go forth for yourself from your land, to the land which I shall show ... Read more →

The Art of Hope

Imagine someone who lived a century ago receiving a postcard from Jerusalem. She would probably receive that card with all the delight of one who has touched on the exotic, as one who has come as close as she may ever to Jerusalem.  In that moment, the postcard represents the extent of her ... Read more →

Editor’s Thoughts: Old-New Land: Israel’s Intertwined Past and Present

Sefer Melakhim ends with a scene of terrible disaster. The Jews have been starved, beaten and exiled, their former king now a vassal, totally reliant on the King of Babylonia for food, clothing and freedom.[i] But there is consolation at the end of this exile, as Jeremiah promises, there will ... Read more →

Rav Soloveitchik’s Bold Stance on Kedushat Erets Yisrael

One aspect of R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s philosophy that distinguishes him from other prominent Orthodox Jewish thinkers is his boldness in challenging conventional ideas while remaining true to halakhic principles. In one such instance, the Rav breaks away from a prominent opinion among ... Read more →

The Har ha-Bayit Dilemma

From my spot in the Beit Midrash at Yeshivat Hakotel, I looked out upon a clear view of Har ha-Bayit each day. I could see the giant, golden dome dominating the mountain, where kohanim and leviim once served, and I gazed out at a mosque where the mizbeah once stood. However, I remained an ... Read more →

Exploring the Connection Between Yitzchak and Shimshon

Do Yitzchak and Shimshon have anything to do with each other? [i] At first glance one would surely think not, considering that the two live several hundred years apart and that their life paths are  polar opposites. Yitzchak lives before the Jewish Nation existed. He leads a fairly quiet life ... Read more →

Fear Factor: Exposure Therapy and the Walls of Jericho

The first Canaanite city which the Israelites capture in the days of Joshua is Jericho. As part of the preparations for conquering this city, the nation receives one of the most memorable, mystifying military commands in its history. Before ordering the people to launch their offensive, God ... Read more →

The Missing Mitsvah: Rambam’s Omission of Yishuv Erets Yisrael

Rambam is famous for his love for the land of Israel, but his omission of the mitsvah of yishuv erets yisrael from one of his most important works is glaring. In his Sefer ha-Mitsvot, where he lists the 613 commandments, Rambam leaves out the mitsvah of yishuv erets yisrael, a mitsvah we would ... Read more →