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Virtual Talmud

January 1970 Archives

A Time To Laugh and a Time to Weep

posted by mkress

Why should we care that in 586 BCE (Before the Common Era) the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple and in 70 CE the Romans destroyed the Second Temple? The Temple was the central address for Jewish worship and assembly for […]


Mourning This Year

Tisha b’Av (the 9th of the month of Av), the day Jews mourn the loss of the Temple and their subsequent exile, is one of those holidays that never made too much sense growing up. Let me explain by recounting […]


Destruction and Introspection

These past few weeks have been so full of pain and strife. Each new headline brings fresh waves of sorrow at the human and political toll that the current conflict in Lebanon is taking. With Israeli ground troops now entering […]


Something Just Doesn’t Add Up

I am not sure if there is much more to say about this issue, Prof. LeVine. Your problem seems to be more with the people at Pew. To sum up: Your position expresses little difference between evangelicals, Muslims, and Israelis […]

Mark LeVine: Isn’t Judaism About Righteousness?

posted by mkress

I appreciate the detailed statistics from the rabbi. However, they are not relevant to the question at hand. The question is not whether Islam or religion more broadly is not relevant to people’s lives or to the political process. Large […]

Prof. LeVine: Where Are Your Statistics?

Prof. Mark LeVine should be commended for his cool-headed response to my original post. To be honest, I wrote the post in a very unrabbinic way (too much steam not enough substance) I appreciate the time he took to flesh […]

Guest Blogger: Who Let the Dogs of War Out?

posted by mkress

I thank the various people, including Rabbi Stern, who have taken the time to comment on my article. However, Rabbi Stern and the others who accuse me of separating politics and religion have not read the article in its entirety. […]

Evangelicals & Israel: Conditional Love

Since September 11, there has been a growing coalition between Jews and evangelicals. And in the past few days, we have seen evangelicals rush to support Israel in its war against Hamas and Hezbollah. The Israel/evangelical alliance highlights the complexity […]

Strange Bedfellows

Of the many strange bedfellows that politics breeds, one of the strangest in recent memory is the alliance between evangelical Christians, largely in the United States, and the Israeli governments of Netanyahu, Barak, Sharon, and now Ehud Olmert. The reasons […]

The End of War

We have entered into a new stage in Middle East crises: The End of War. Yes that’s right: THERE IS NO WAR IN GAZA OR LEBANON. Let me explain. War is defined by the possibility of peace. If there is […]

Mark LeVine: Wrong and Irresponsible

UC Irvine historian Mark LeVine, writing on Beliefnet, has once again crafted a beautiful apology for Islamic leadership. Contrary to everything stated by Hamas and Hezbollah, LeVine somehow has managed to argue that “However harsh the rhetoric against Israel or […]

These Three Weeks

posted by mkress

Last Thursday was the 17th of Tammuz, the day the walls of Jerusalem were breached 1936 years ago. These three weeks that lead up to Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av) traditionally are observed as a time of semi-mourning, in […]

Where Did God Go?

For more than a thousand years, the Jewish God was primarily seen and described by Christians as a vengeful God. As Robert Louis Wilken, writing in “First Things,” explains:“One of the first major theological disputes in the early Church centered […]

A God to Believe in

I love speaking with seventh-graders about God. They’re so eager to shock the rabbi–they can’t wait to tell me that they don’t believe that God controls the world or, often, that they don’t even believe in God at all. I […]

God : The Biography

Maimonides once explained that we can only know God by what God is not: God is not limited. God has no end and no beginning. God has no corporeal form and therefore no gender (which is why I use only […]

Which Zionism?

There are few terms more fraught–and less clear–than “Zionism.” For some, it is the fulfillment of God’s ancient promise to Abraham to give the land of Canaan to his descendants. For some it is a movement of spiritual and cultural […]

The Leibowitz in Me

When I heard about Israeli president Moshe Katzav deciding not to refer to Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the leader of the Reform movement, by the title “Rabbi,” I laughed it off. But the more I think about it, the more the […]

Can There Be Jews Without Zionism?

Zionism is as old as Judaism. It began when God first spoke to Abraham and told him to leave his homeland for a land that God would show him. That same land would be promised to his great grandchildren, the […]

Previous Posts

The Task Is Never Finished
It has been heartwarming to read the warm responses to Rabbi Waxman's post asking Beliefnet to reconsider its decision to cancel Virtual Talmud. Virtual Talmud offered an alternative model for internet communications: civil discourse pursued in ...

posted 12:31:46pm Apr. 03, 2008 | read full post »

Some Parting Reflections
Well, loyal readers, all good things must come to an end and we’ve been informed that this particular experiment in blogging as a forum for creating wide-ranging discussion on topics of interest to contemporary Jews has run its course. Maybe ...

posted 1:00:29pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

Obama's Lesson and The Jewish Community
There are few times in this blog’s history when I have felt that Rabbi Grossman was one hundred percent correct in her criticisms of my ideas. However, a few weeks ago she called me out for citing a few crack websites on Barak Obama’s ...

posted 12:09:08pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

The Future of Race Relations
As a post-baby boomer, it is interesting to me to see how much of today’s conversation about racial relations is still rooted in the 1960s experience and rhetoric of the civil rights struggle, and the disenchantment that followed. Many in the ...

posted 4:04:41pm Mar. 25, 2008 | read full post »

Wright and Wrong of Race and Jews
Years ago, as a rabbinical student, I was one of a group of rabbinical students who visited an African American seminary in Atlanta. My fellow rabbinical students and I expected an uplifting weekend of interfaith sharing like we had experienced ...

posted 12:50:11pm Mar. 24, 2008 | read full post »


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