Resolving an Identity Crisis: Thoughts on Parashat Vayiggash, December 26, 2009

"And Joseph said to his brothers: I am Joseph. Does my father still live?"

In re-uniting with his brothers, Joseph asked if his father was still alive. Yet, the brothers had already told him that Jacob was alive. Indeed, the rest of Joseph's words make clear that he knew Jacob was alive. So what is the significance of his question "does my father still live?" We need to understand Joseph's dilemma.

Reminders to members of the University Network

Shalom. Here are a few reminders. We've had some good conversations on the new University Network discussion group, and I encourage you to enroll if you haven't already done so--and I encourage you to add your comments, raise your issues, and help make the discussion group a lively and worthwhile forum.

If you've enrolled on the discussion group but have not been receiving messages, please let me know asap. Today, you should have received the latest comment from Michael Makovi.

Going and Coming: Thoughts on Parashat Bo, January 23, 2010

When God first appointed Moses to return to Egypt to lead the Israelites to freedom, He used the word "lekh"--go. The word "go" is repeated a number of times during the early phases of Moses' work. Yet, once the plagues began to afflict the Egyptians, God ordered Moses with a different word, "bo"--come. This week's Torah portion opens with God telling Moses "bo el Par'oh", come to Pharaoh. What is the significance of the words "lekh" (go) and "bo" (come)?

Thoughts on Purim 5770

The Megillah pays close attention to what Mordecai wears. When he learns of the evil decree against the Jews, "Mordecai rent his clothes and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and bitter cry." Mordecai had been one of the regulars at the king's gate--but the king did not allow people dressed in sackcloth to enter the royal precincts. In her distress, Esther sent Mordecai a change of clothes, which Mordecai rejected.

Shalom from Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

Shalom. I hope you've had a good Purim. Here are a few items for members of the University Network.

1. We have received good submissions to our essay contest. The due date is today. If you are still planning to submit something, you may do so until midnight tonight. You should email a copy to [email protected] and to [email protected], and you should indicate which university you attend and what year you're in. The deadline is firm--no extensions.

The Second Set of the Tablets of the Law: Thoughts on Parashat Ki Tissa, March 6, 2010

The Me'am Lo'ez, the classic Ladino biblical commentary (Turkey, 18th century), draws on midrashic sources in describing the two sets of the Ten Commandments. The original Revelation on Mount Sinai was a highly dramatic episode. Moses ascended the mountain, as the people of Israel gathered below with great anticipation. The scene was marked by thunder and lightning and the sound of the shofar.The voice of God was heard by all.