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The mission of the 12 spies — a metaphor

The mission of the 12 spies — a metaphor

JUST as the opening chapters of Genesis are not meant to be a science book (though Genesis does contain scientific data), the middle chapters of Numbers are not meant to be a history book (though they contain historical information). The Torah intends to teach its readers the meaning of things more than the things themselves.

Even so, what could be the meaning for us of the failed mission of the 12 spies? This took place more than 3,000 years ago. Spies were sent to scout out the land of Canaan in preparation for its conquest. Isn’t the story of the spies’ fright over the land’s residents just ancient history?

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View from Central Park

A Jew is a Jew is a Jew

THE news that Cardinal John O’Connor of New York was born of a Jewish mother surfaced a while ago. This week there was an extensive article about it in The New York Times. Not only was the cardinal born of a Jewish mother, but her father, the Cardinal’s grandfather, was a rabbi and a shochet. His mother converted to Catholicism when she was 19 and never spoke of her Jewishness. She died a devout Catholic, while sitting in a chair praying with the rosary. The theory and consensus are that th...

Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 June 2014 01:56 )

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Reflections

Countering racial slurs with clarity

I was ecstatic when our dear friends Barry and Bonnie called to tell us they were coming for a visit. Like most people, my husband and I rarely make time to do the wonderful “touristy” things in Tucson that others travel thousands of miles to see. So I immediately rushed to the phone to reserve a spot for the four of us for a tour at the world-renown caves located in southern Arizona. It was a glorious day and as we waited on the patio for the tour group to gather, our guide asked each of...
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View from Central Park

Ruth’s leap, Jethro’s ambivalence

In the post-Shavuot spirit, in contrast to Ruth who was so singleminded in her famous testimony of devotion, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro stands as a contrasting Biblical convert. From the outset, Jethro is complex and possibly even ambivalent. It is not immediately clear exactly what his role vis a vis the Jewish people is. In fact, it is not exactly clear who he even is. The famous Rashi quotes Jethro as having seven names, again suggesting complexity and possibly ambiguity in his very ide...

Last Updated ( Friday, 06 June 2014 02:00 )

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View From Denver

The personality of Miriam

The personality of MiriamJUST when you thought that a burst of creativity in Biblical exegesis became the final word in the field, a subterranean paradigm shift unfolds. With its development the earlier creativity is seen as encased within a certain methodology, such that the new burst in creativity is not a departure from, or a quarrel with, the earlier mode. It is simply something new. Given that the Hebrew Bible is the eternal book, its layers of meaning accumulate not just one layer upon the other. Not just anot...

Last Updated ( Friday, 06 June 2014 01:46 )

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