Tag Archives: Purim-Rav

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“You may not turn your back and say amen”

Note: This message was originally distributed on March. 8th, 2017 to the Hebrew College  community, alumni and friends. Dear friends, One of my favorite practices on Purim is the mitzvah of mishloach manot — delivering gifts of food to friends and neighbors. Rabbi David Hartman relates this mitzvah to the fact that the Book of Esther, which we read on Purim, does not mention the name of God. Purim speaks to all… Read Article →

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Celebrating Women’s Mark on the Textual Tradition from Esther to Today’s Teachers of Jewish Text

The holiday of Purim, whose observance centers around the public chanting of the Book of Esther, is a yearly opportunity to reflect on women in the Jewish textual tradition, and women’s relationship to it. A woman, after all, has top billing as one of two heroes of the story, a true rarity within the Bible. With courage and humility, Esther skillfully maneuvers of the nuances of her socio-political context to… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Humility and Hope in an Uncertain World: A Purim Teaching

This morning’s Torah reading begins with a divine call. Vayikra el Moshe vayedaber Adonai elav. Something, someone calls out to Moses, and God speaks to him. Vayikra. There are two things about the opening word of this verse and this sefer (book) that are noteworthy and that have given rise to much commentary. First, we are not initially told the subject of the verb “called”. Vayikra el Moshe. Not God… Read Article →

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The Many Faces of Purim

This sermon was originally delivered at Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, CA on March 18, 2016. As we move into Shabbat Zachor this evening, I wanted to say a little about Purim, and some of how I have come to understand the rather strange and raucous way we celebrate this narrowly averted experience of attempted genocide.  It’s not an immediately intuitive occasion on which to throw a party. The story… Read Article →

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From Prophets to Process: Purim Ponderings

Rabbi Zadok Hakohen of Lublin (1823-1900) traces the development of the Oral Law to the time of Purim. The basic founding of the Oral Torah began with the men of the Great Assembly … in that generation lived the last prophets … for with the demise of that generation prophecy was stopped up and the writing of the Torah became forbidden, just as was the writing of prophecy … Even… Read Article →

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More Than One Thing: Purim and Reflections of the Image of God

Megillat Esther, which we read on the holiday of Purim this week, is a flamboyant, even farcical tale of good and evil. Its characters on the face of it are caricatures of human virtue and vice: Achashueras, the foolish king who sits on the throne but exercises no true leadership or authority; Haman, the sinister power behind the throne who cleverly executes his genocidal plan until he himself is executed upon… Read Article →

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Matanot L’Evyonim – Giving and Receiving on Purim

Adar is here! Purim, with all its joy and merriment, is on its way.   As someone who was passed over when the gene that appreciates alcoholic beverages was dispensed, I find Purim, and the way it is widely celebrated, perplexing. Looking for the Divine in Purim can be difficult. We have a meal with no kiddush or candles, a scroll with no mention of G-d, where the heroine’s very name… Read Article →

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A 21st Century Hassidic Teaching on Shabbat Zachor

Remember what Amalek did to you as you were leaving Egypt…and when YHVH your God brings you to a place of rest from your surrounding enemies in the land YHVH your God is giving you as your portion, blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens — do not forget. (Devarim 25:17-19) To understand why, the paragraph begins by telling us to remember what Amalek has done but… Read Article →