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"No other book within the Bible…is as intensely personal as Koheleth"

"No other book within the Bible…is as intensely personal as Koheleth" #Bible

No other book within the Bible, and few outside of it in world literature, are as intensely personal as Koheleth.  To be sure, he can be properly understood only within the framework of the intellectual life of ancient Israel, which is, itself, a distinctive part of the larger culture-pattern of the ancient Near East.  Nonetheless, his vision of life is definitely his own, the reaction of his…

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Understanding Certain Stories in Rabbinic Literature as “literary constructs which try to convey certain religious, moral, and ideological messages or transmit legal instructions”

Understanding Certain Stories in Rabbinic Literature as “literary constructs which try to convey certain religious, moral, and ideological messages or transmit legal instructions”

Other types of narratives have also been identified within rabbinic sources.  At one end of the spectrum, we find the anecdote about prominent rabbis or known historical figures, such as Alexander the Great or Roman emperors.  At the other end, there are concise case stories which present the most important legal details of particular cases only.  Neither of these traditions can be considered…

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"Chareidi Yeshivish Hebrew…evolved after the Holocaust"

“Chareidi Yeshivish Hebrew…evolved after the Holocaust”

Mention must…be made of another new dialect that came about in the twentieth century: Chareidi YeshivishHebrew. This dialect, which evolved after the Holocaust, both in Israel and America, is a blend of the Lithuanian and Polish pronunciations, which ironically enough originated with the Yiddishists. In the early part of the twentieth century, the Yiddishists set out to standardize Yiddish…

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"To feed the hunger for knowledge that exists among American Jews, we need education that doesn’t talk down to people or make them feel like children"

“To feed the hunger for knowledge that exists among American Jews, we need education that doesn’t talk down to people or make them feel like children”

Today’s Jews, he [Rabbi Arthur Green] said, are better educated in general education, which makes the gap between their Jewish knowledge and their general knowledge more striking.  Consider “the percentage of Jews we have with graduate degrees, who then get up in the synagogue and try to have an aliyah[reading from the Torah] and are illiterate.”  Knowledgeable Jews feel embarrassed about their…

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"You can’t bring anything Jewish to a conversation if you don’t know it" - Lawton

“You can’t bring anything Jewish to a conversation if you don’t know it” – Lawton

I’m constantly being told by Americans that American Jews are out and proud, unlike the shrinking violet Jews of Europe, who kind of don’t demonstrate and make it clear.  And, yet, whenever I say to an American audience, “Get out there and tell people what Jewish things you think in your workplace. Enrich the conversation in your workplace by your Jewish insights”, I hear “Well, I don’t think I…

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A “rabbinic literary form which has analogies in rabbinic texts is the chreia, also called apophthegma or pronouncement story”

A “rabbinic literary form which has analogies in rabbinic texts is the chreia, also called apophthegma or pronouncement story”

Another rabbinic literary form which has analogies in rabbinic texts is the chreia, also called apophthegma or pronouncement story.  The chreiahas its origin in Hellenistic rhetoric and was adopted by both Jews and Christians in antiquity.  It consists of  a more or less brief narrative introduction, culminating in a poignant statement by a “wise man”, whether a philosopher, rabbi, Jesus, or…

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"Musical genres are like unstable elements, constantly on the verge of breaking down"

"Musical genres are like unstable elements, constantly on the verge of breaking down" -@AndrewMarantz

Musical genres are like unstable elements, constantly on the verge of breaking down.  Some African-American forms, like disco, grew so popular that they merged with pop music and effectively disappeared; others, like ragtime, maintained their purity, but lost their audience.

Andrew Marantz, “Old School”, The New Yorker (7 April 2014), 26.

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"If we’re just like everybody else, what are we for?" -Clive Lawton

“If we’re just like everybody else, what are we for?” -Clive Lawton

If we’re just like everybody else, what are we for?  If we can’t add Jewish insights, if we can’t raise the tone of the conversation, if we can’t bring to bear Jewish challenges, then who’s going to do that? I know we’re all brilliant at saying Western things, we can all tell you what every other American can say.  But who’s going to bring the Jewish voice?  If you live and work in one of those…

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Pundits Have Incentives to Being Bold

Pundits Have Incentives to Being Bold

When uncertainty abounds, pundits strive to differentiate themselves from their peers. There’s little to be gained from saying what everyone else is saying or, God forbid, suggesting that there isn’t enough information on which to base a judgment. Conversely, there can be huge rewards in taking a flyer on an extreme prognosis and turning out to be right. As one recent study of the economics of…

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“This whole story says more about those Jews who attach importance to Madoff’s Jewishness, than it says about Madoff” - Hirschfield

“This…says more about…Jews who attach importance to Madoff’s Jewishness, than it says about Madoff” -@BradHirschfield

On the one hand, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, co-president of CLAL – the National Center for Learning and Leadership, says, “This whole story says more about those Jews who attach importance to Madoff’s Jewishness, than it says about Madoff.”

He was not a religious man when he embarked on his crime spree, he was not a religious man when appointed to Yeshiva’s board, and there’s nothing particularly…

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