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Dec 5, 2023, 12:04 PM
Secularism and Peace, Religious Fanaticism and War
Secularism and Warmongering or Religious Fanaticism and Intractable Wars A friend of mine floats the idea, from time to time, that the Palestine/Israel conflict seems intractable because religious fanatics on both sides refuse to compromise. If only people could get past religion,...
Aug 7, 2023, 3:20 AM
The Contested Commandment to Live in Israel
The Commandment to Inhabit the Land of Israel I intend to use this opportunity to try to resolve a difficulty in Rambam. But first, a story: About forty years ago, there was a teachers’ strike at Akiva. My friend and teacher, Rabbi...
May 23, 2023, 6:03 PM
Renting Money for Ellis Island
Years ago, I read an account of how would-be immigrants at Ellis Island needed to demonstrate that they were unlikely to become a public charge. The key proof would come from a sponsor, who could vouch for the immigrant....
Mar 6, 2023, 12:34 AM
Near the end of the Book of Esther registers as magic. The Jews, at long last given royal permission to defend themselves, kill enormous numbers of their enemies. This they accomplish without the usual complications: Readers do not learn...
Feb 6, 2023, 8:53 PM
A parable about divorce and remarrying
Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, a woman can hold her ex-husband hostage and refuse to allow him to remarry
Sep 13, 2022, 6:38 PM
The fast I have chosen
Elliott Shevin wrote up an incident that occurred at our synagogue a few years ago, when he was shul president. His account was never published. It occurs to me that, as we prepare for the Days of Awe this...
Sep 11, 2022, 6:19 PM
Mourning for a Book
Forty years ago we bought a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica, most of one. Our son’s elementary school decided to cull it at their annual book fair because the set was missing two volumes, and, anyway, was more than a...
Nov 22, 2021, 8:36 PM
I just learned a source for a family story. The source: Bereshit Rabbah 26:4. Rabbi Hiyyah's daughter got married. She said to him, "Abba, say a prayer for me." He said, "May you never come back here." She had a son. She said to...
Oct 14, 2021, 8:10 PM
The Terrifying Part of the Story of Noah
Dozens of children’s books retell the story of Noah; we give children toy versions of Noah’s ark. We scarcely notice that the story of Noah has terrifying aspects. Notice the most terrifying one: Though Noah works heroically to save...
Aug 18, 2021, 8:51 PM
Mercy as the Opposite of Justice?
I dedicate this post to the memory of my late friend, David Dolinko. We were schoolmates from second or third grade through high school graduation. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Philosophy, and then a law degree,...
Louis Finkelman teaches Literature and Writing at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan. He serves as half of the rabbinic team at Congregation Or Chadash in Oak Park, Michigan.