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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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"Hip-hop is having a Semitophilic moment"

Hip-hop is having a Semitophilic moment.  Drake, who was brought up Jewish in a wealthy part of Toronto, has rhymed “more than high” with “Mordechai.”  Jay-Z and will.i.am have incorporated “mazel tov” into their verses.  In 2012, Rick Ross released a mixtape called “Black Bar Mitzvah”; it featured a skit in which a rabbi – played by Peter Rosenberg – invites celebrants to join him at a Miami…

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"The Sabbath symbolizes a state of complete harmony between man and nature and between man and man"

“The Sabbath symbolizes a state of complete harmony between man and nature and between man and man”

In the Old Testament, a man who “gathers sticks” (Num. 4:32 ff.) is considered a violator of the Sabbath law and punished by death. In the later development, not only work in our modern sense is forbidden, but activities like the following: making any kind of fire, even if it is for convenience’s sake and does not require any physical effort; pulling a single grass blade or flower from the soil;…

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"Josephus’s invective against John and his rebel cohort should be read within a wider Roman discourse on transgressive gender"

“Josephus’s invective against John and his rebel cohort should be read within a wider Roman discourse on transgressive gender”

I have argued that Josephus’s invective against John and his rebel cohort should be read within a wider Roman discourse on transgressive gender, both the tendency in political invective to cast tyrants as effeminate objects of anal penetration, as well as the gendered power structures integral to Roman imperial ideology. Effeminacy, and especially sexual passivity, were inextricably linked with…

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Considering how to separate a text from its context re: Rabbinic Literature

Considering how to separate a text from its context re: Rabbinic Literature

If neither technical terms nor attributions are available for separating a text from its context, a change in formulation and style may help to determine its beginning and end.  For example, a parable or story will be recognizable by its narrative style, if it is preceded by a legal statement or discussion.  Problems arise in the case of longer narratives, which are especially common in the…

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Biblical Events “might indeed offer some guidance for the future”

Biblical Events “might indeed offer some guidance for the future”

Do the foregoing events bear any lessons for modern Israel? In one sense they do not, because never in the past did Israel or Judah have a powerful external ally that simply lost interest or patience with the region and withdrew from it; ancient centers of power based in modern-day Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey were all too much a part of the region to leave it. But, in another sense, these…

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Jews “can relax; we don’t have to worry about [quantitative] numbers”

Jews “can relax; we don’t have to worry about [quantitative] numbers”

As you may know, we’re not expanding at a great rate.  Numerically, we’re probably not going to grow.  We might grow a little bit, but not in a significant way, and certainly, given the growth of the world’s population, if the Jews do grow by some marginal rate, it won’t be noticeable.  We are – and always have been – doomed to be a minority.  So, we can relax, folks; we don’t have to worry about…

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"Discourses on transgressive gender behavior played an integral role in articulating Roman imperial ideology"

“Discourses on transgressive gender behavior played an integral role in articulating Roman imperial ideology”

The emphasis in these sources, however, is not simply on gender deviancy as a character flaw in a tyrant but on the capacity of effeminate emperors and other political figures to emasculate the state, as it were, to weaken, and ultimately endanger, Roman hegemony. It is thus not at all surprising that charges of effeminacy are often linked to moments of political vulnerability, such as the waning…

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