Three Great Reads from the Jewish Journal

Since when are Jews a “privileged class? How do you handle Mother’s Day when things are difficult with your mom? Is the right to vote a Jewish value?

Over the past several years, Jews have been stripped of any claims to minority status. They have a new origin story in America: one that involves Plymouth Rock and bypasses Ellis Island altogether. A new rainbow of progressivism, with its spectrum of escalating oppressions, has outed Jews as full-fledged members of the oppressor class…

Of all the 613 mitzvot in the Torah, I’ve always found the fifth commandment to be the most difficult to uphold: “Honor you father and your mother as Hashem your G-d has commanded you, so that you will lengthen your days and so that it will be good for you on the land that Hashem your G-d has given to you” (Devarim 5:16).

As American Jews, we have an obligation to heed President Biden’s ominous warning to Congress that, “if we are to truly restore the soul of America — we need to protect the sacred right to vote.” [.] Amid these challenges, our Jewish values compel us to act…

Three Great Reads from around the Web

Is free will real? Do animals have culture? Why do Jews love cities?

Arguments against free will go back millennia, but the latest resurgence of scepticism has been driven by advances in neuroscience during the past few decades. Now that it’s possible to observe – thanks to neuroimaging – the physical brain activity associated with our decisions, it’s easier to think of those decisions as just another part of the mechanics of the material universe, in which “free will” plays no role.

Genes lumber, but culture soars. In 1980, for example, an observant humpback whale discovered that by smacking its tail hard against the water, the tiny fish on which it preyed were prompted to ball up into tidy packages fit for comparatively easy capture and consumption. The enhanced hunting technique, called lobtail feeding, quickly spread along known lines of humpback social groups, aided, researchers suspect, by the cetacean talent for acrobatic mimicry among members of a pod.

… if you can’t walk to shul on Shabbos, there are other things you probably can’t do as well, such as walk to fellow congregants’ houses for Shabbos or Yom Tov meals­—let alone have a few drinks on Purim without endangering others by driving. All of these things become much more difficult if there isn’t enough housing near shul to go around, or if the housing only suits some people…

Commentary on Parashat Behar-Bechukotai

This week at the Jewish Journal, Parashat Behar/Bechukotai is under discussion. Parashat Behar/Bechukotai (Leviticus 25:1-27:34) – talks about Sabbatical and Jubilee years, regulations concerning commerce and the redemption of slaves. It also contains a description of the rewards for observing God’s commandments and the series of punishments that will face Israel if they choose to disregard them.

“God has promised us this land but it’s really more like a long-time lease or even a sense of stewardship.”

These are radical commandments. God’s vision is for an economy of impermanence, one in which all ownership is borrowing. In many ways it sounds utopic — an antidote to our modern world, in which wealth is seized and hoarded by the few while the land is exploited nonstop for resources.

But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field, nor prune your vineyard.  Lev. 25:4

Rabbi Elliot Dorff: This verse is one of several in the Torah that can rightfully be cited as a demand in our tradition that we care for our environment… The Torah’s rationale for this commandment, however, is not concern for the environment.

Three New Jewish Podcasts

Just in time for the weekend, three new podcasts about Judaism, Jewish culture, and Israel.

Shmuel Rosner and Daniel Levin discuss Levin’s new book, “Proof of Life: Twenty Days on the Hunt for a Missing Person in the Middle East“.

“If we’re serious about stopping a conflict, we have to be serious about addressing the war economy that benefits from it.”

After briefly breaking down the Oscars, the Bagels compare it to the Jewish community after COVID (of course) and wonder if the trailers for “In The Heights” and “West Side Story” are too similar. Erin’s looking forward to the Steven Spielberg remake of “West Side Story;” Esther’s looking forward to being less confused about where to find which movies and TV shows.

This week on Unorthodox: Gal Gadot’s pandemic injury. First we speak to Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, the Linfield University professor who was fired after publicizing accusations of sexual misconduct and antisemitism regarding the board of trustees and the college president.

Then we welcome back one of our favorite gentiles of the week, Noreen Malone, who is hosting the fifth season of Slate’s Slow Burn podcast

Today’s Hot Issues

Three Great Reads from the Jewish Journal Three Great Reads from around the Web Commentary on Parashat Behar-Bechukotai Three New Jewish Podcasts