Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

March 2007 Archives

Kernels of History Add Flavor to Exodus Story

posted by Virtual Talmud

Rabbi Waxman makes my point: those who get stuck on an “all or nothing approach” (i.e. proving or disproving the historicity of the Exodus) miss the point of the eternal values the story contains. However, that rule goes for both […]


The History Trap

I find it interesting that Rabbi Grossman wants to argue that the Exodus account may contain more historical truth than I give it credit for. Maybe, maybe not–I’m not sure it terribly matters either way. Clinging to the “kernels of […]


History Without Moses

The question of the historical authenticity of the Exodus story gets into far larger questions, namely, does history matter and if so what are the claims it can make on us? Personally I have gone back and forth on the […]


The Lack of Evidence Is Not Evidence

posted by Virtual Talmud

I agree with Rabbi Waxman that the power and relevance of the Exodus lies not in whether we can historically verify the details of its story but in the truths it contains. The most obvious are the nature of the […]

The Truth of the Exodus

Several years ago, before I had even enrolled in rabbinical school, I was sitting at my parents’ table for seder when my uncle looked at me pointedly and said: “You’re the religious one. Tell me, did the Exodus really happen?” […]

Anti-Semitism: Down But Not Out

posted by Virtual Talmud

Rabbi Stern writes that in America anti-Semitism is as dead as a door nail. I wish it were true. While the Anti-Defamation League recently reported that the number of anti-Semitic incidents were down by 12 percent from 2005, the Klu […]

The Old and the New of Jewish Organizations

As someone who is often still lost in the alphabet soup of Jewish organizations – UJC, WZO, AJC, JCRC, WJC, LOL – I share the frustration of those who find the organizations of Jewish communal life difficult to navigate, perhaps […]

Why Jewish Organizations Matter

In wake of the recent shakeup in leadership at the World Jewish Congress, bloggers, pundits, and Jews around the country have been calling into question the role and import of national and international Jewish organizations such as WJC, United Jewish […]

You Are What You Eat

posted by Beyond Blue

I think Rabbi Grossman sells the power of Jewish food short. True, there is much, much more to our tradition than our food, but food is an important aspect of Jewish civilization. It demonstrates how Judaism is more than just […]

Gastronomic Judaism: Food for Thought

posted by Virtual Talmud

What is it about Jews and food? It’s more than our obsession with finding a good bagel. It’s our almost pathological need for conspicuous consumption. We always have to have more than enough. Perhaps it is the collective unconscious of […]

Guest Blogger: JSafe’s Rabbi Responds

posted by Virtual Talmud

We are highlighting this response to Rabbi Stern’s post on Judaism & domestic violence as a service to our blog readership. I thank Rabbi Stern for his comments on domestic violence and for drawing attention to the work of JSafe. […]

Stop Pardoning Domestic Abuse

A few years ago Rabbi Michael Dratch founded the organization JSafe: The Jewish Institute Supporting an Abuse-Free Environment. Its mission reads that JSF “works to promote a Jewish community in which all of its institutions and organizations conduct themselves responsibly […]

Women: Victims of the Domestic Rod

posted by Virtual Talmud

I agree with Rabbi Waxman that corporal punishment sends the wrong message to children about solving problems with violence and therefore should have no place in family life. His comments remind me of a larger issue: the systemic failure of […]

Spare the Rod

“Spare the rod and spoil the child,” a well-known and unfortunate aphorism based on Proverbs 13:24, was recently invoked in the debate about a proposed California law banning spanking children younger than age 3. The bill garnered so much resistance […]

The Real Purim Villain

posted by Virtual Talmud

I disagree with Rabbi Waxman’s suggestion that what distinguishes Haman from the historic villain Hitler or today’s Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is that Haman jumped to the chase in seeking the total annihilation of the Jewish people immediately, rather than […]

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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