Articles

On Interpreting Midrash

Rabbi Moshe Shamah is founder of the Sephardic Institute in Brooklyn, which he actively heads. Rabbi Shamah published a commentary on the Torah: Recalling the Covenant: A Contemporary Commentary on the Five Books of the Torah (Ktav, 2011). This is a lightly edited and abridged version of Rabbi Shamah’s two-part essay, “On Interpreting Midrash,” in his Commentary, pp. 336–358. It appears in Issue 15 of Conversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.

Darkness that Leads to Enlightenment: Thoughts for Parashat Bo

The plague of darkness might symbolize the need to periodically clear our minds and re-evaluate our assumptions. In the darkness and quiet of our inner selves, we can try to shed light on our opinions, values, attitudes and behaviors. An old proverb has it that “no one is so blind as the one who refuses to see.” We might offer an addendum to this proverb: “and no one sees so clearly as the one who has first experienced darkness.”

Needed: Redemptive Halakha

What we need now is prophetic, New Age halakha, dedicated to the great, authentic, ethical mission of the Jewish people as conveyed by the prophets, and combined with the demands of the Torah. The prophets preached a rare combination of particularism and universalism.