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Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

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To Talk or Not to Talk: Different People, Different Standards

posted by Virtual Talmud

A few thoughts in response to Eli Stern’s typically insightful and unflinching response to a much-vexing and often-divisive issue. I am very much in favor of a litmus test for all conversations, not just those devoted to, or conducted between […]

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Is There Hope for The City of Peace?

posted by Virtual Talmud

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem under Jewish rule. Jerusalem in Hebrew (ir hashalem) means City of Peace. Unfortunately, that is not a descriptive phrase but a prophetic one: When Jerusalem is at peace, then […]

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Safe Sex for the Soul?

posted by Virtual Talmud

I don’t have the same problem Rabbi Waxman does with the Orthodox Union’s recent effort to promote abstinence among its young people. The OU’s site does seem to include accurate information, at least to my medically untrained eye, particularly by […]

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Orthodox Coercion Hurts Our People

posted by Virtual Talmud

Kol ha kavod to Rabbi Stern on drawing the line between the coercive power of the Israeli Rabbinate and their encroachment on the American Orthodox Rabbinate’s authority over American conversions. However, I wonder if Rabbi Stern would be willing to […]

How Many Jewish Mothers Does It Take?

posted by Virtual Talmud

How many Jewish mothers does it take to change the Jewish mother stereotype? I don’t know about you, but the Jewish mothers I knew–my mother and both my grandmothers–were loving individuals who gave unstintingly of themselves to their children in […]

Two Jews, Three Opinions

posted by Virtual Talmud

It is not just our traditional and liturgical emphasis on asking questions that contributes to what Rabbi Waxman terms the “Jewish intellectual legacy.” It is the value Jewish traditional learning placed upon engaging different opinions. The Talmud is full of […]

Darfur: Are We Part of the Problem or the Solution?

posted by Virtual Talmud

I brought my 7th grade class to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington last Sunday. I wish I could say they were learning past history. The sad news is, they were not. The very same day, people gathered in front […]

Where was God During the VT Shooting?

posted by Virtual Talmud

The terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech raises a number of questions, but the ultimate question is: where was God when this happened? This is not a new question. We are forced to ask ourselves it in the face of every […]

A Wolf Guarding the Sheep

posted by Virtual Talmud

I applaud Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for appointing a Muslim Israeli Arab to the Cabinet. What a contrast to the surrounding Arab nations, many of whom refuse to allow Jews to be citizens. However, I disagree with Rabbi Waxman […]

Restitution As Confession of Guilt

posted by Virtual Talmud

I agree with Rabbi Waxman that there can be no real restitution for the horrors of the Holocaust. However, restitution is important for another reason: the agreement by Germany to pay restitution signified that Germany publicly accepted responsibility for its […]

Does God Really Care If We Eat Bread on Passover?

posted by Virtual Talmud

The Torah prohibits eating bread or any form of leavened product, chametz, during Passover. The penalty for eating or even owning chametz is severe: being cut off from the people Israel (Exodus 12:15). Such a punishment sounds descriptive rather proscriptive: […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 postings over a time frame of days (rather than moments

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 it’s that blogging doesn’t lend itself so well to t

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 advisors. She was right. I never should have cited those web

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 black and Jewish communities look to this period either

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 in visits to other (largely white) seminaries. We were

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

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