Atar Hadari

Atar Hadari’s Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award. Lives of the Dead: Poems of Hanoch Levin was recently awarded a PEN Translates 2016 grant and is forthcoming from Arc Publications.

The Prophet Whose Glorious Words Permeate Jewish Consciousness

Isaiah’s unforgettable language serves much the same role in spoken Hebrew that Shakespeare’s does in English.

July 18 2018 12:01AM

Is There a Physical Reality to God?

That’s the question raised by a poem sung at many Ashkenazi services.

June 7 2018 12:01AM

The Happiest Psalm of Them All

In a biblical book many of whose poems express anxiety and apprehension, Psalm 104 is a confident and joyous singalong.

April 4 2018 12:01AM

Joseph vs. Moses: A Comparison

One engages in dialogue with his fellow Jews, and one engages in a dialogue with God. What’s the meaning of the difference?

Jan. 4 2018 12:01AM

Who is Serenaded on Friday Night: the Woman of the House, or the Divine Presence?

Before the meal on Sabbath eve, the prayer book offers a song of praise to the ideal woman.

Nov. 30 2017 12:01AM

Why Some Rabbis Have Loved the Sabbath Prayer "Shalom Aleykhem"—and Some Haven't

The promise and peril of calling angels to bless your Sabbath table.

Sept. 7 2017 12:01AM

The Sh'ma Is the Jewish Safety Net

The brave attempt at monotheism was bound to go wrong sometimes, and when it did, the Israelites would need help putting the pieces back together again.

Aug. 3 2017 12:01AM

Benzion Netanyahu, the Altalena, and Me

Looking back at the founding moments of the state of Israel with the father of the current prime minister.

July 12 2017 12:01AM

The Case of the Non-Jewish Prophet

With his fatal weakness for the lure of fame and fortune, the prophet-for-hire Balaam seems completely our contemporary.

July 6 2017 12:36AM

Two Anthem-Like Views of What Judaism Boils Down To

The two great liturgical songs of Yigdal and Adon Olam offer rival attempts to summarize the essence of Judaism.

June 8 2017 12:01AM

Why the Lord Doesn't Allow David to Build the Temple

David remains a revolutionary hero, a guerrilla leader and desert tribal bandit—too much of a renegade at heart to be entrusted with His house.

April 20 2017 12:01AM

The Darkest Day in the History of Judaism?

When Israelites who stood for God were ordered to kill their fellows who had stood for the Golden Calf.

March 16 2017 12:01AM

Prayers for the Departed

The two disparate texts intoned at Ariel Sharon’s funeral tell us much about contemporary Jewish attitudes toward life, death, and the land of Israel.

Feb. 2 2017 12:01AM

One of the Most Spectacular Songs of Praise in the Jewish Liturgy

Nishmat starts with the wide-open sky and the wings of eagles; it ends deep inside the recesses of the body, in our vital organs.

Dec. 28 2016 12:01AM

The Murder-Ballad of Abraham and Isaac

Can you imagine the person who bathed you and put you to bed at night tying you up one day and holding a knife to your throat?

Nov. 17 2016 12:01AM

The Siddur Is a Battlefield

The ancient priesthood, the Pharisees, the kabbalists, the Ḥasidim—each of these and more have made a stand in the prayer book for what they think Judaism should be.

Oct. 20 2016 12:01AM

For the Torah, Women Aren't Commodities, and Marriage Isn't a Pro-Forma Prelude to Sex

The point of the Torah’s rules on foreign brides and divorce.

Sept. 15 2016 12:01AM

One of the Most Profound Paradigm Shifts in Jewish History

A biblical story marks the moment when Judaism turned from charismatic authority to institutional authority, and from the rule of judgment to the rule of law.

July 28 2016 12:01AM

Why the Generation that Left Egypt Was Kept in the Desert

They looked inside themselves and saw only their own fear, not the confidence needed to make the land of Israel their own.

June 30 2016 12:01AM

For Every Material Punishment, A Spiritual One, Too

Read enough of the Hebrew Bible and you could come to the conclusion that the two are intertwined, or even interdependent.

June 3 2016 12:01AM

Why the High Priest Is Not Allowed to Mourn

He is dehumanized, his life circumscribed by the need to achieve perfect purity and be a vessel for the forgiveness of the people’s sins.

May 19 2016 12:01AM

Praising the Lord on Israel's Independence Day: Yes or No?

The answer comes down to the nature of deliverance, and to what you think the Jewish state represents.

May 11 2016 12:01AM

The Silencing of Prophecy and the Rise of Oral Law

The book of Malachi, read on the Sabbath before Passover, marks the moment in Jewish history when priestly authority gave way to rabbinic judgment.

April 13 2016 12:01AM

The Anxieties of Purim

The book of Esther and the festival of Purim mark the beginnings of the exilic world, in which the battle to remain Jewish never really goes away.

March 18 2016 12:01AM

The Most Boring Torah Portion of the Year?

Vayakhel records in painstaking detail the making of the tabernacle. It also makes clear one crucial truth: the central task of Jewish leadership is not atonement but teaching.

March 3 2016 12:01AM

The Ominous Undertones in the Bible's Description of the Temple

Solomon builds it for the Lord, but the Lord is not so impressed.

Feb. 11 2016 12:01AM

Why Moses Resists Being Chosen to Lead the Israelites

He insists he’s not cut out for the job, and his reason has something to do with the way he speaks.

Jan. 7 2016 12:01AM

The Crucial Contrast Between Joseph and Moses

Moses acts, while Joseph sees himself as being acted upon.

Dec. 11 2015 12:01AM

The Final Reverberations of Sarah's Life

How her fear and her mistreatment of Hagar the Egyptian helped forge the descendants of Abraham into a people, in a forge of 400 years.

Nov. 5 2015 12:01AM

Why Doesn't the Jewish Tradition Hold Noah in Higher Esteem?

Abraham and Moses are considered wholly righteous men, but Noah isn’t quite. That’s because, unlike them, he does what he’s told without question.

Oct. 15 2015 12:01AM

The Personal Prayer at the Heart of the High Holy Days

“Here am I, poor in deeds,” it begins. Where did it come from and, more importantly, what does it say to us?

Sept. 11 2015 12:01AM

How Moses Let Go

For 40 years, Moses held tight to the Jews lest they relapse into idol worship. As his time drew to an end, he forced himself to loosen the reins.

Aug. 13 2015 12:01AM

Were Reuben and Gad Right to Ask Moses for Land on the Other Side of the Jordan?

Wherever Jews live, God lives within them.

July 16 2015 12:01AM

Mutiny in the Bible

What happens when the people rebel against the leadership of Moses and Aaron?

June 19 2015 12:01AM

Did It Really Happen, or Was It a Dream?

God ordered the prophet Hosea to marry a whore and father her children. The rabbis can’t decide if the story actually happened or was purely symbolic.

May 22 2015 12:01AM

Why Israel's Memorial Day Turns into Its Independence Day

And why this week’s Torah portion fits into the spirit of both days.

April 21 2015 12:01AM

The Bible’s More Than Three-Dimensional Pharaoh

You can hear the man’s voice as he keeps changing his mind. What’s the point of such a Shakespearean portrayal?

March 19 2015 12:01AM

What to Do When the Lord Orders Vengeance

God wanted all of Amalek dead. Saul thought he knew better. What happened next?

Feb. 26 2015 12:01AM

A Woman Who Fired the Torches

Why Jewish girls are named after the fierce prophetess Deborah.

Jan. 29 2015 12:01AM

Do We Learn Only through Terrible Pain?

It’s hard to read the story of Joseph and his brothers without asking that question.

Dec. 24 2014 12:01AM

Jacob, the Innocent Con Artist

Was Jacob born to greatness, did he achieve it, or did he have it thrust upon him by his mother?

Nov. 20 2014 12:01AM

The Most Complicated Character in the Bible

It isn’t Moses, despite the four books devoted to his adventures—it’s Abraham. Why?

Oct. 31 2014 12:01AM

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty

Why should we confess, particularly on Yom Kippur? Why in public? And why so many times?

Oct. 2 2014 6:00PM

Pagan Rosh Hashanah

How a central prayer of the New Year liturgy reveals the day’s true spirit of awe and fear.
Sept. 22 2014 7:20PM

Jerusalem Is Not Destroyed

On the Book of Lamentations.
July 30 2014 11:09PM

Thomas Hardy in Judea

Why we read the book of Ruth on Shavuot.
May 28 2014 4:11PM

The Love of Their Youth

The Song of Songs and the old men, filled with longing, who sing it.
April 11 2014 3:55PM

Esther in Des Moines

The Purim story, with appearances by Ronald Reagan and Rodgers & Hammerstein.
March 13 2014 12:05AM

The Preacher's Air

On translating Kohelet
Sept. 16 2013 10:05PM