Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Haftarat Vayigash: Unity is the First Step by Gidon Rothstein

December 8, 2010 by  
Filed under New Posts

Ezekiel 37, 15-28 Like the weather, unity is easy to speak about, harder to actually affect or effect. One important contribution this haftarah makes to the conversation about unity is to give us a definition of the word, a sense of the kind of unity we ought to seek and can, with effort, bring about. [...]

מי לה’ אלי?: Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln… The Chanukah Version by Gidon Rothstein

December 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Holidays, New Posts

The full line of the quip in the title goes, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” and is meant to wryly note some people’s ability to miss the significance of an event—the assassination of a President, in that case– and move on to trivial matters.  I think it a point to keep [...]

Haftarah for Shabbat Hanukkah: Lighting the World by Gidon Rothstein

December 1, 2010 by  
Filed under New Posts

Zachariah, 2:14-4:7 It seems worth wondering why God decided Hanukkah needed a component of lights, based on the miracle of the cruse of oil.  The essential story of the holiday, after all, could have happened without that, with just the miracle of the military victory followed by the cleansing of the Temple and the restoration [...]

Haftarat Parshat Vayeshev: Sticking our Heads Frimly into the Ground by Gidon Rothstein

November 24, 2010 by  
Filed under New Posts

Amos 2:6-3:8 The haftarah opens with a line that recurs in Amos, his declaring that “for three sins of …, and for four I will not forego.” In our selection, the culprit is Israel, the Northern Kingdom.  He then names their having sold “a righteous person for money and an impoverished one for shoes,” often [...]

Haftarat Vayishlach: The Tragedy of Esav as It Plays Out in Our Day by Gidon Rothstein

November 17, 2010 by  
Filed under New Posts, Tanach

Haftarat Vayishlah: The Book of Ovadiah When reality is too painful, we have two roads to take, being overwhelmed by sadness or learning to distance ourselves enough to continue functioning.  Oncologists know this challenge well, since they run the risk of getting too caught up in the tragedy of each lost patient or, almost equally [...]

Sarah’s Death and The Nature of Prophecy by Gidon Rothstein

October 30, 2010 by  
Filed under New Posts, Philosophy

One of the earliest divrei Torah I remember finding attractive and interesting came in the week of Parashat Hayye Sarah, and resonates with me today for the remarkable claims it makes about the nature of prophecy.  My elementary school principal, a wonderful mechanech named R. Abraham Kahana, gave mishmar in the Yeshivah of Flatbush Elementary [...]

Can Belief in Science Fulfill the Criteria for Worshipping Avodah Zarah? Teshuvah and Fundamental Beliefs by Gidon Rothstein

September 12, 2010 by  
Filed under New Posts, Philosophy

Who’s Crazy Enough To Worship Idols? Growing up, I remember finding עבודה זרה a totally foreign concept— we were supposed to believe that many years ago, benighted and backward peoples believed that stones and statues and trees could control their lives, and worshiped them to secure better outcomes. And we Jews, with a tradition of [...]

What is Lost as We Eliminate the Impossible: Jews and Public Schools by Gidon Rothstein

September 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Education, Jewish Culture, New Posts

Sherlock Holmes’ advice, “Eliminate the impossible; whatever is left, however improbable, must be the truth,” made a deep impression on me.  It seemed so logical, so unequivocal, so indisputable1.  In the years since I first encountered the epigram, I have realized some major weaknesses in its presentation; for our purposes, here, some of those weaknesses [...]

Would We Recognize the Ten Plagues Today? by Gidon Rothstein

August 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Education, New Posts

Thinking of the question raised in the title of this essay, we might instinctively answer, of course, because we’ve seen this movie so many times before. Were Moses to come today and tell us to do—well, whatever, really, but let’s leave it at abandoning the exile—we’d obviously do it. But that’s a mirage, because it [...]

From Where Shall Truth Be Found? by Gidon Rothstein

August 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Education, New Posts

On two recent occasions, I have had the similar and unsettling experience of noting the importance of finding the truth, only to have listeners speak of the impossibility, or at least great difficulty, of that task, on even basic issues. And, incidentally, I do not mean complex or debated truths, I mean ones that should [...]

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