Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

January 1970 Archives

Evil in Stages

Rabbi Stern compares Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Haman, and there’s certainly reason for comparison–but there’s also at least one important difference. In the Purim story, it is striking that Haman displays a level of hatred and arrogance that is […]


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: The New Haman

There is no end to the amount of homilies that rabbis will spin out of the story of Purim. Pending what’s in the New York Times that week, Vashti, Esther and Mordechai all become transformed into real-life characters. Usually this […]


Of Purim and Power

Rabbi Stern’s reference to the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance is right on the mark in our discussion of the place of women in today’s Jewish power structure. This week’s Jewish Week contains a front-page story on how that organization has […]


Where is Esther? Jewish Women’s Leadership Today

Purim is amazing in terms of the importance it grants to women in leadership positions. So I guess it only normal for me to ask, so where are our Esther’s today? Sadly, in the Jewish community today there remains a […]

Is Hillary the Next Vashti?

posted by Virtual Talmud

No one is who they appear to be in the Book of Esther, which we read on the upcoming holiday of Purim. Vashti seems an all-powerful queen, yet she overestimates her power and is removed from office, probably not pleasantly, […]

Principle, not Expediency

I appreciate Rabbi Grossman’s defense of the practice of taking multiple and potentially contradictory positions. Jewish tradition is based on the principle of eilu v’eilu–that conflicting positions each have standing and integrity in their own right, provided that the argument […]

Not Every Problem Has a Solution in Jewish Law

posted by Virtual Talmud

When thinking about the recent decision on the part of the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards to allow gay ordination and marriage, I try to remind myself that I really don’t like criticizing people and institutions when […]

Homosexuality and Halakhic Debate

posted by Virtual Talmud

Rabbi Waxman is correct that the recent decision by the Conservative movement to pass two diametrically opposite positions, one permitting and one prohibiting same sex relations, does in fact leave the decision to local rabbis and their congregations. This is […]

Mixed Messages on Homosexuality & Jewish Law

On December 6, the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards–known in short as the Law Committee–passed a number of contradictory teshuvot (legal opinions) that variously allow and disallow same-sex commitment ceremonies, participation of gays and lesbians in synagogue […]

Let’s Be More Careful with Charges of Anti-Semitism

In response to Rabbi Stern’s post on whether liberal Jews fuel anti-Semitism by criticizing Israel, Rabbi Grossman writes: When Jewish intellectuals confuse their right to criticize specific policies of current or past Israeli governments with questioning the legitimacy of having […]

Bi-Nationalism, a Smoke Screen for Anti-Semitism

posted by Virtual Talmud

There are serious flaws in the argument Rabbi Stern is making on whether liberal Jews are anti-Semites if they argue that Israel should cease to be a Jewish State and become a binational state. Buber and Einstein were mostly writing […]

Were Martin Buber and Albert Einstein Anti-Semites?

posted by Virtual Talmud

Recently, the New York Times published a piece on the uproar created over an article written by Alvin Rosenfeld put up on the American Jewish Committee website entitled “Progressive Jewish Thought and Anti-Semitism.” The article lumps a broad range of […]

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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