MiKetz | מקץ

Menorah Meditations: Hanukkah 5781

Aryeh Kaplan’s classic book, Jewish Meditation presents many techniques for focusing one’s attention in order to perceive dimensions of reality that are otherwise hidden. I love his discussion of the letters shin and mem. The sound we make with sin/shin is a hissing noise, a chaotic cacophony. In contrast, the mem, Kaplan writes, “is pure…

The Peekaboo Menorah–Hanukkah 5779

My favorite student sweater this week said “Happy Llamakka,” and of course featured a picture of a Jewish llama. I don’t recall any llamas in the Talmud’s discussion of the festival of lights, but there is a camel that lights the city on fire. Here’s the scene: a camel laden high with straw is led…

From the Depths of Hebron: Vayeshev 5778

One wonders what Jacob really knew about the relationship between his sons, just as we wonder about how attentive Isaac had been to his battling boys. Jacob does seems to be on to something once Joseph starts sharing his dreams, and “his father guarded the matter.” Did he, though? In Chapter 37:11, Jacob says to…

Joseph for Israel, Joseph for All: Mikketz/Hanukkah

Who is Joseph deep within? As the Hebrew youth rises from enslavement to privilege, from refugee status to rulership, what remains of his core identity? This question is central to the story of Joseph’s life, and is also tied to the festival of Hanukkah, with which Parashat Mikketz is always associated. The Hanukkah story begins with…

The Light of Compassion Shines from Within: Shabbat Hanukkah 5775

Around JTS when we cite Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, we refer to the great twentieth century theologian who fled Europe during the Holocaust and spent his final decades teaching Torah at JTS, writing a remarkable series of books that continue to inspire a diverse array of Jewish and Christian thinkers, and practicing social justice activism…

Taking Control of our own Destiny: Mikketz/Hanukah 5774

Each year we eavesdrop on Joseph as he eavesdrops on his clueless brothers. He has placed a “melitz” or interpreter between them in order to extend the ruse that he is a foreign potentate rather than their brother. And so he learns that Reuben tried to rescue him from the pit. This is presumably why…