Three Great Reads from the Jewish Journal

Check out these fantastic new offerings from Jewish Journal writers on the topics that matters most to our readers:

Shabbat is a gift. It’s an invitation to take time at the end of the week to unwind and connect with your family, your community, your religion. No matter what your Jewish background, sharing a Friday night Shabbat meal is like hitting the reset button.

OneTable is on a mission to help young adults (ages 21-39) establish and maintain a Shabbat practice by making Friday night dinners accessible, sustainable and valuable.

These are strange times. Mobs of Jewish rioters commit a pogrom in Huwara ahead of Shabbat Zakhor while the Temple Institute posts pictures on Instagram of its genetically modified red heifers ahead of Shabbat Parah. We are living in a Jewish science fiction novel, where the words of our sacred texts have escaped their bindings and now run rampant in the streets.

This time, Netanyahu, who is traditionally considered a political wizard, grossly miscalculated. By launching this set of crazy moves against our democracy, he has unleashed an unprecedented volcano of popular rage. For the last 10 weeks, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been taking to the streets, Israeli flags in their hands, to protest against this onslaught on their liberty. They will never let this happen.

Three Great Reads from Around the Web

Every week, we scour the web for the best takes to feature in the Roundtable. Here are some of our favorite articles that we found along the way:

Thought to have been created around 1300 CE, the Hereford Mappa Mundi is the largest surviving complete map of the medieval world. Named for Hereford Cathedral where the map is housed today, the extraordinary document offers insight into the minds of Christian Europeans in the Middle Ages, revealing the extent to which their understanding of the world was shaped by stories from the Bible and the Classics.

If your resolutions have become a statistic, let me suggest a new approach for the remainder of the year: Create a list of anti-resolutions. These are things you want to not do this year, such as spending time with particular people who don’t bring out your best, or going places you don’t enjoy. That might sound a little too, well, negative, but it’s actually an approach to life improvement based on an ancient philosophical concept known as the via negativa.

We know life when we see it. Flying birds are clearly alive, as are microscopic creatures like tardigrades that scurry around in a single drop of water.

But do we, humans, know what life fundamentally is? No… There’s no consensus definition, but still the question teases us. It feels like it should be easy, something a fifth grader ought to be able to answer for science homework.

Commentary on Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei

Parashat Vayakhel begins with Moses commanding the people of Israel to observe Shabbat and continues to tell us in great detail about the building of the Tabernacle. In Parshat Pekudei the Tabernacle is completed and all its components are brought to Moses, who erects it and anoints it with the holy anointing oil. Aaron and the priests are given their clothing for work in the Tabernacle. A cloud descends and God’s presence fills the Tabernacle.

You shall kindle no fire throughout your settlements on the Sabbath day – Exodus 35:3

Rabbi Benjamin Blech: It seems like a perplexing paradox.

Shabbat is welcomed with the lighting of candles… Light is the first thing God called good. Yet now, as our ancestors are first taught the laws of Shabbat, they are commanded “you shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day”!

The building campaign of Moses was extremely successful, as people gave with great generosity. So much so that it was told to Moses that the people were bringing more than what was necessary for the project. Upon hearing this, Moses sent out a message that people should cease any further donations to the Temple.

The chidush begins with the opening word, Vayakhel, which comes from the same root as the word for kehillah — or “community.” And adat refers to “community” as well. What an appropriate time for Moshe to be calling the Israelites together as a kehillah. Having only recently been freed from slavery, the identity of the Israelites was still unformed. How could the Israelites become a kehillah, a holy community?

Three New Jewish Podcasts

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

Shanni and David discuss the power of words, in comedy and in life, and get into a spirited debate on the value of engaging in the culture wars.

Ariel Mayse serves as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University, and is the co-author of the two-volume A New Hasidism: Roots and A New Hasidism: Branches, with Arthur Green. Mayse joins Dan Libenson and Lex Rofeberg for a conversation exploring the history of Jewish mysticism, from the Hebrew Bible through today. This episode is the 11th episode in an ongoing mini-series focused on Jewish spirituality.

The war being waged on the foundations of Western civilization by woke leftists in schools, publishing, culture and the government threatens the Jewish community as much as anyone else. JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin argues that the rights of American Jews are as much at risk as those of other citizens from the effort to tear down the great achievements of Western history, philosophy, literature and art.

Today’s Hot Issues

Three Great Reads from the Jewish Journal Three Great Reads from Around the Web Commentary on Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei Three New Jewish Podcasts