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Issue 9.5: Israel

For my post high school gap year I studied in an Israeli Midrasha. While at first I struggled to catch on to classes in hebrew and grappled with cultural differences like casual lice breakouts, army time, and the consumption of whole cucumbers for breakfast, I eventually grew to love the authentically Israeli environment, one that felt wonderfully foreign and new in the best way. Unsurprisingly, this newness struck me most on Yom Ha'atzmaut.  Read more →

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Latest Articles

The Fifth Maggid: Elie Wiesel and Hassidic Storytelling

In the aftermath of the passing of literary luminary Elie Wiesel, there has been no shortage of obituaries offered and lamentations lamented. In the 75 years following the Holocaust, the world has embraced Wiesel as the unofficial mouthpiece of a sometimes silent generation, but one region of ... Read more →

Elucidating a Selection from Tanya: What it Means to Educate a Child ‘According to His Way’

Tanya is a philosophical treatise on some of the most important and fundamental principles of Hassidut. It was written by the founder of Habad Hassidut, R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, also known as the Alter Rebbe (or ‘elder teacher’). Though the study of Tanya is generally attributed to those ... Read more →

Tzimtzum, Divine and Human Constriction: A Meeting-Place Between the Divine and Human

“Whenever I think about God, I am at first saddened, because I realize that in thinking about Him, I distance myself from Him. But then I remember that since He is all, He is also my thought and my distance, and I am consoled,” said the 19th Century Hassidic thinker, Rabbi Nahman of ... Read more →

Making a Mikdash: Classical Understanding With Hassidic Illumination

Immediately following Moshe’s forty-day and forty-night stay atop Mount Sinai, Hashem instructs him to command Benei Yisrael to make a Mishkan. Hashem first tells Moshe that he should take Terumah, a monetary donation that is set aside for Hashem,[1] from anyone in Benei Yisrael “whose ... Read more →

A Perspective of Habad Hassidut Towards Music

The [Rebbe] noticed an old man among his listeners who obviously did not comprehend the meaning of his discourse. He summoned him to his side and said, “I perceive that my sermon is unclear to you. Listen to this melody and it will teach you how to cleave unto the Lord.” The [Rebbe] began ... Read more →

Neo-Hassidism and Modern Orthodox Spirituality: A Reappraisal

Part I: Spiritual Climate at Yeshiva University Last year, I wrote an article[1] for this magazine that attempted to unearth, in sweeping, largely utilitarian terms, the philosophical anatomy of Modern Orthodox Neo-Hassidism. While I was fortunate to receive mostly positive feedback on the ... Read more →

Of Obligation, Brotherhood, and Confusion: Why Did Yonah Run?

In the waning hours of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, the book of Yonah is read. A standard explanation for this practice is that Nineveh’s repentance and subsequent redemption following God’s decree serve as both a critical and timely reminder of the opportunity for ... Read more →

Morning After Memo to Religious Conservatives

The views expressed in the following article are solely those of the author, and are not intended to reflect or represent the views of Kol Hamevaser and its editors. For a while nearly everyone I met, mostly students and colleagues, looked and talked depressed and disappointed, whether because ... Read more →

Letter from the Editor

The history of mankind is made up of our stories. Jewish history is no exception; our collective narrative is comprised of a great meddling of stories, from the histories of Philo of Alexandria to the folk tales of Chelm. The stories we were told as children, the stories we tell others, the ... Read more →

Remembering and Reremembering the Menorah: Reflections of a Jewish Historian

Recently I concluded The Menorah: from the Bible to Modern Israel (Harvard University Press, 2016). This volume is a personal history, my own “take” on the biblical menorah and its place in western civilization. The Menorah was written with both the scholar and the lay reader in mind. My ... Read more →

Keeping Our Oldest Story Relevant – The Haggadah of Don Yitzchak Abarbanel

Storytelling[1] has been a part of Jewish history since the inception of the Jewish nation. One of the first commandments we received as a nation was a multi-part commandment to tell the story of the Exodus from slavery over to our children – “and you shall tell your son on that day ... Read more →

The Science of the Past: Reading History on Shabbat

May one read history books on Shabbat? Although it may seem to be an innocuous activity, reading history actually poses several halakhic and hashkafic problems, some of which may apply even during the week. Perhaps a better question is, may one read history books at all? Various sources address ... Read more →

The Missing Two Hundred Years and the Historical Veracity of Hazal

Modern Jews often encounter a tug of war between scholarship and rabbinic tradition. Hazal have left us with an extensive and exacting record of what to do and what to believe. It is our task to sift through this record and determine which parts of this record are incumbent upon us today. While ... Read more →

Comparing the Parallel Historical Accounts of the Talmud and Josephus

Several historical accounts found in the Talmud are paralleled by accounts recorded earlier in the works of Josephus, the first-century Roman Jewish historian. While the rabbinic sages of the Talmud (Hazal) surely had historical traditions of their own, they likely had traditions from sources ... Read more →