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The Four Rungs of Anti-Semitism

The public tolerance or acceptance of open Jew-hatred does not develop in an instant. An analysis of the descent into the abyss of anti-Semitism shows four distinct stages, or rungs. After the fourth is...

Letter to the NYT About Abortion

To the Editor: Judaism permits, even requires, abortion in limited cases, and responsible Jews cannot endorse measures that give a fetus the same protections as a born child. But, with regard to Sarah Seltzer’s...

Mikeitz – Small, Not Inconsequential

Yosef, who reaches the height of temporal power in this week’s parshah, was originally presented as unimpressive, even vain, the favorite of his father but the lesser, at least as they saw things, of...

A “Certain Sect of People”

People sometimes ask me if writing a letter to the editor of a major newspaper is worth the trouble, considering that having one’s letter chosen for publication is a long shot. I reply that...

The Myth of Mundanity: A Chanukah Thought

The thought experiment begins by asking us to ponder a world where the dead routinely rise from their graves but in which no grain or vegetation has ever grown. Long departed relatives routinely reappear...

Vayeishev – Gone, But Not Forever

When Yaakov Avinu is shown his son Yosef’s blood-soaked coat, “All his sons and daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted” (Beraishis, 37:35). Quoting the Midrash Rabbah (84:20), Rashi explains...

Vayishlach — A Poisonous Prescription

Number one on my list of brilliant people’s brilliantly wrongheaded ideas is something that the late British polymath/physician/comedian Jonathan Miller once said: “I feel that the Jew must constantly re-adventure and re-venture himself into...

Vayeitzei – Haters Gonna Hope

In a short, biting comment, the Chasam Sofer makes a trenchant observation about antisemites, whom he sees as following in the footsteps of Lavan, Yaakov Avinu’s father-in-law. When, after being tricked into working for...

Toldos – Confining Minds

A word often translated as “hunting” is used by the Torah to characterize Esav — “a man who knows hunting” (Beraishis 25:27). Likewise, earlier, to describe Nimrod — “a powerful hunter” (10:9). Rashi explains...

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