All posts by Jonathan Wittenberg

Seventy Faces of Torah Jonathan Wittenberg

Violence and Vision

Passover: seventh day, Exodus 13:17-15:26; eighth day, Deuteronomy 15:10-16:17 The ancient rabbis chose Isaiah’s vision of peace on earth as the prophetic reading to accompany the Torah reading for the 8th day of Passover, the Festival of Freedom. The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard lie down with the kid, calf and young lion and fatling together, and a little child shall lead them…(Isaiah 11:6) “Indeed!” observed one of my teachers… Read Article →

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Between Fragility and Protection

Chol haMoed Sukkot: Exodus 33:12-34:26 My father-in-law was a warm-hearted man who took each day with good cheer and had a smile for everyone. The family therefore chose as the inscription on his grave, “Enjoy life for it is the gift of God”. It’s a quotation, more or less, from Ecclesiastes, which is customarily read this week (in addition to the Torah reading from the Book of Exodus and the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Tazria-Metzora

Leprosy’s Haunting Relevance

This week’s double Torah portion, Tazria-Metzora, contains a lengthy disquisition on how the priests in the times of the ancient Temple were to deal with people presenting a large range of luridly coloured spots and sores associated with tzara’at (usually translated as leprosy); understandably, it has a reputation as the portion about which rabbis least want to preach. But there is little more important in human society than our attitudes… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah talking-to-god2

Overhearing God’s Voice

How do we hear God speak, if, that is, we hear God speak at all? Would the world be a better and safer place if we did; or would it be even more frightening and unstable? The Torah describes the great procession with which the Children of Israel marked the dedication of the Tabernacle in the wilderness (Numbers 7). Perhaps it wasn’t as dull an occasion as it seems in… Read Article →