Then and Now
Judaism

What are the Ten Commandments?

The “Ten Commandments” occupy an iconic place in popular imagination.  Whether as a result of Cecile B. DeMille’s epic 1956 retelling or not, most of us know the basic outline of the story: Moses goes up Sinai where God gives him the Ten Commandments, writing them with His own finger on the tablets.  The people,...

Shared, but How?

  What is a “ball”?  Does a ball exist when there is nobody around to see it? Over the past couple of months I have been exposed to the thought of Bruno Latour.  Latour tries to thread the needle between seeing all of reality as a social or rhetorical construction and a strictly realist or...

And Moses Said Unto the GOP…

The other day Nicholas Kristoff published a satirical take-down of Paul Ryan and his budget priorities in the New York Times.  He imagines a conversation between Ryan and Jesus, in which Ryan pushes back on Jesus’ call to have mercy on those who are poor .  Such mercy, Ryan essentially argues, amounts to a policy...

Tagging the Talmud

This essay is cross-posted at thetalmud.com where it kicks off a series on digital humanities. The other week I attended a workshop called Classical Philology Goes Digital Workshop in Potsdam, Germany.  The major goal of the workshop, which was also tied to the Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities was to further the work of creating and analyzing...

Jewish Charity in Antiquity

The online forum Ancient Jew Review recently published three essays on Jewish charity in antiquity, by Alyssa Gray, Gregg Gardner, and Yael Wilfand.  I highly recommend these essays which together provide an excellent introduction to the state of research in this field.  My own response to them was also published here.

Using Video in Religious Studies Classes

A few years back I tried to incorporate video clips into my teaching.  Below is a link to a brief account I recently published in AJS Perspectives on this experiment. What are ways that you find most useful to incorporate sound, images, or other nontextual media into your Jewish Studies classrooms?  

Speaking in Baltimore

I will be giving four talks in Baltimore on April 1-2 on the holiness of the Bible.  I am grateful to the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Study and the consortium of Baltimore area synagogues for the opportunity to do this.  The details are located on my Events page or on this flyer.

On Jewish Betrothal

I recently wrote an essay for thegemara.com on the origins of Jewish betrothal.  The primary but not only context for this essay is to provide a new, historical lens for those who, working through the “daf yomi” cycle of reading a page of Talmud each day through to its completion, have just started tractate Kiddushin. ...

Workshop: Jewish Attitudes Toward Wealth and Poverty

I am very happy to announce an upcoming workshop at Brown University that I am coordinating, “Jewish Attitudes Toward Wealth and Poverty,” to take place on November 1-3, 2015.  More information can be found on the workshop website. A description: Traditional Jewish texts present different approaches to wealth, poverty, and money. The purpose of this...

The Wisdom of Ben Sira: How Jewish?

I have written a short piece on how the book of Ben Sira (also known as Ecclesiasticus, which today is found in the Apocrypha) was pushed to the Jewish margins and on some recent attempts to bring it back into at least the fringes of Jewish consciousness.  The essay can be found here.

Wealth: Religious Perspectives

I am excited to be co-teaching a new course this semester with my colleague, Professor Susan Harvey.  The course description of “Wealth: Religious Perspectives,” is below: This course will survey religious approaches to the acquisition and use of wealth: How do religious thinkers understand the notion of ownership and private property? Is the fact of...

The Ein Gedi Scroll: What We Could Potentially, Maybe Learn

A bit over a month ago the Israel Antiquities Authority announced a stunning achievement: a burnt scroll found in excavations of the ancient synagogue of Ein Gedi in 1970 has been partially deciphered using micro-CT technology.  It turns out to contain at least the beginning of the book of Leviticus and, after the Dead Sea...