Enlightening the Eyes

The Full Spectrum of Jewish learning

Respecting the Decision of the Rabbis

Many years ago there was a TV show called The Practice. As the name implies the show was about attorneys and their trials. In the midst of one trial, one of the lawyers mentioned that one of the reasons that a topic like abortion is so divisive and contentious in American society so many decades...

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The Tension between Torah and Prophecy

The decision of the rabbis to ardently oppose divine attestations in matters of legal disputation, i.e., Baba Metzia 59a-b, was tied to two essential concepts. The first dealt with the closure of the accepted prophetic canon after the deaths of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The second reason...

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Rabbi Jose Faur and the Decline of the Andalusian Tradition

The eminent Rabbi Jose Faur passed away last week. He was a unique Sephardic scholar and rabbi from the Syrian Jewish community. Orthodox trained he nevertheless taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Netanya College, and my alma mater, the Spertus Institute. HIs teaching at the Jewish...

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The Eternality of Punishment

Most Jews in the 21st century see hell as a Christian concept. The reality is much different. Competing views on the eternality of punishment are found in Jewish sources. One fascinating context for it is a discussion held in the Sephardic community of Amsterdam. The history of the community can...

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Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History from Ezekiel to Daniel

I first came across Gabriele Boccaccini's works at the Siegal College of Judaica. I was working on master's thesis and had chosen the topic of Israelite/Jewish identity in the Second Temple period. Most scholars in the late 20th century have shifted away from the view that rabbinic Judaism was...

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Ancient Israel and the Book of Kings and Chronicles

While both texts are part of the Biblical canon, the book of Kings and the book of Chronicles were written in different periods of Jewish history during drastically differing political realities. The former was likely written shortly after the destruction of the First Temple; the latter was most...

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The Concept of Sonship in Jewish Thought

A friend recently asked me whether Christianity had been a topic of discussion at the three traditional Jewish institutions I studied at. I remarked that it was never a central topic of discussion, but that it did arise on occasion. When it did, there were three contexts in which the topic arose....

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The Stranger within Your Gates: Converts and Conversion in Rabbinic Literature

Controversy regarding conversion to Judaism seems like an ever-present discussion when it comes to the modern State of Israel and Jews in the Diaspora. Every few weeks or so an article appears in a Jewish online newspaper or an Israeli news site discussing a disagreement usually between the...

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Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran

One of the foundational texts for the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls remains the work of Dr. Lawrence Schiffman titled Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls: The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran. Schiffman lays out the history of the scrolls from their...

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Jewish Conversos and the Rise of Secularism

The rise of a secular alternative to Jewish life was the product of a series of complicated events and trends brought about in part by the Renaissance, the Age of Reason, and various wide ranging political changes in Europe. It was also brought about in part by changing views on Jewish religious...

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