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The Monthly Portion

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

Koraḥ’s failed rebellion against the leadership of Moses shows that a culture based on grievance cannot last.

June 22 2017 12:01AM

There’s a reason the Torah refers to the endlessly complaining Israelites, who need a golden calf to comfort them, as “the children of Israel.”

May 25 2017 12:01AM

The law in Leviticus seems morally questionable, not to mention out of line with the Bible’s otherwise encouraging stance toward the bearing of children. What’s it really about?

April 27 2017 12:01AM

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 fire at the core of Leviticus.

March 30 2017 12:01AM

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

March 16 2017 12:01AM

The great song marking the Israelites’ safe crossing of the Sea of Reeds is the Hebrew Bible’s only full-length poem recited collectively by the people as a whole. What is it really about?

Feb. 9 2017 12:01AM

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

In the Jewish tradition, the summit of religious awareness is to know that God is ultimately unknowable.

Jan. 19 2017 12:01AM

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 story of Joseph sets up two archetypes: the righteous dreamer (Joseph) and the flawed but penitent sinner (his brother Judah). Both have a place in the tradition, but one is preferred.

Dec. 22 2016 12:01AM

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 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