For Religious Ritual to Confront Death, It Must Step Outside of Reason

In Numbers 19, read in synagogues this Sabbath, the Torah commands the ritual slaughter and incineration of a red cow, the ashes of which are then mixed with water and used for the ritual purification of anyone who has come into contact with a corpse. Paradoxically, the priest who prepares the ashes himself becomes ritually impure, and by reason of this paradox the talmudic sages held this rite up as the archetypal ok, a commandment that defies human reason. Jewish theologians over the centuries have offered various explanations as to why God would make such nonrational-seeming demands. Jonathan Sacks offers an explanation of his own:

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Read more at Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

More about: American Jewish Committee, Death, Numbers, Torah

Despite Reasons for Worry, Jews Shouldn’t Lose Faith in the American Promise

Sept. 24 2021

From synagogue shootings, to attacks on Jews on the streets, to the gathering strength and viciousness of anti-Zionism, especially in the corridors of political power, American Jewry has ample reason for concern about its safety and wellbeing. But, surveying both the present situation and the deep roots of what has made America a welcoming home to Jews with “no analogue in the 2,000 years after the destruction of the Temple,” Josef Joffe argues that the U.S. remains exceptional. The bad news, however, is still bad:

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Read more at Commentary

More about: American exceptionalism, American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Chuck Schumer