With his fatal weakness for the lure of fame and fortune, the prophet-for-hire Balaam seems completely our contemporary.
Koraḥ’s failed rebellion against the leadership of Moses shows that a culture based on grievance cannot last.
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.”
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?
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.
The fire at the core of Leviticus.
When Israelites who stood for God were ordered to kill their fellows who had stood for the Golden Calf.
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?
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.
In the Jewish tradition, the summit of religious awareness is to know that God is ultimately unknowable.
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.
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.
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?
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.