Enlightening the Eyes

The Full Spectrum of Jewish learning

Interview with Dr. Bejarano Gutierrez Discussing Killing the Torah

Dr. Val Karanxha interviewed me about my new book titled, Killing the Torah: The Roots of Christian Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism. Check out the podcast below! Interview with Dr. Bejarano Gutierrez in Judaic Studies “Killing the Torah” Book Promotion (buzzsprout.com) From the book: Despite...

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Free Will and Determinism in Jewish Thought

The principle story of Parashat Toldot centers on the birth of Isaac’s two sons, Jacob and Esau. Their birth serves to convey G-d’s fidelity to the promises he made to Abraham to provide him future descendants to inherit the land of Canaan. Yet the lives and decisions of both Jacob and Esau also...

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History, Memory, and Meaning of Jewish History

From the Introduction of The Creation of Jewish Identity: From the Biblical Era to the Second Temple Period. A great many Jewish holidays and practices, in their earliest understanding, reflect the great innovation of Biblical religion. The Bible emphasized historical events in contrast to...

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Transmitting Unbelief to the Next Jewish Generation

I wrote the following ten years ago while attending the Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago. It is even more resounding today. I was aware of the demographic changes which reveal a declining and aging Jewish population in the United States and as well as a growing...

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The Bracha of Learning Differently

Do you learn differently than others? I do! I like to read aloud. Ever since I was little for me to truly “get” it, I would read my subjects aloud and with emotion. I think learning differently than others can be a bracha in disguise! You learn to take complex subjects and break...

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Hasidim: Traditionally Oriented with a Nuance

The “classic” imagery of Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, i.e., the Baal Shem Tob that I was always familiar with was that of a charismatic revolutionary leader who overturned the established modes of religious thought and practice. Hasidim were depicted a pietistic group reacting against the Talmudic...

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The Prophetic and Messianic Kabbalah of Abraham Abulafia

There are various types of mysticism known from Jewish sources. All of them seek communion with or identity with the ultimate reality of G-d through direct experience or insight. The mystical experiences of Abraham Abulafia of the 13th century are categorized under the label of prophetic or...

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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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