Category Archives: Chagim

Model of Herod's Temple (a renovation of the Second Temple) in the Israel Museum

Herod’s Renovation of the Temple – The Talmudic Version

In their discussion of King Herod’s reconstruction of the Second Temple, Talmudic storytellers emphasize themes of sight, blindness, and illegitimate rule. They also make a surprising suggestion about who really should get credit for this renovation.

Prof. Jeffrey L. Rubenstein Continue reading Herod’s Renovation of the Temple – The Talmudic Version

Image taken from page 12 of "A journey from London to Persepolis; including wanderings in Daghestan, Georgia, Armenia, Kurdistan, Mesopotamia, and Persia." Author: John. Shelfmark: "British Library HMNTS 10076.g.6."

The Development of the Chanukah Oil Miracle in Context of Zoroastrian Fire Veneration

The Ancient Fire that Fueled the Chanukah Story

Dr. Shai Secunda Continue reading The Development of the Chanukah Oil Miracle in Context of Zoroastrian Fire Veneration

The Munich Talmud: The only complete manuscript of the Talmud. Dates from 1342. Snapshot of b. Berakhot 12b

The Changes to the Amidah Blessings during the Ten Days of Penitence

During the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur two concluding blessing formulas are switched to refer to God as a judge What is the meaning of this change? What can talmudic manuscripts teach us about this liturgical practice?

Prof. Joseph Tabory Continue reading The Changes to the Amidah Blessings during the Ten Days of Penitence

Blanford's Fox (Vulpes cana) photographed in Israel. Eyal Bartov / Wikimedia

Rabbi Akiva’s Laugh: The Hidden Call for the Bar Kokhba Revolt

A New Reading of the Midrash of R. Akiva and the Fox on the Temple Mount.

Dr. Meir Ben-Shahar

Abstract:  In recent years, a growing consensus has emerged that the Bar Kokhba revolt should be connected to Rome’s establishment of the city of Aelia Capitolina on the ruins of Jerusalem. A new interpretation of Rabbi Akiva’s famous consolation upon seeing a fox emerge from the Holy of Holies (Sifre Deuteronomy 43) suggests that this homily can actually be read as a call to arms against Rome.

Continue reading Rabbi Akiva’s Laugh: The Hidden Call for the Bar Kokhba Revolt

Women of all cultures praying at the Western Wall. Meaghan O'Neill / flickr 2.0

Memorializing the Temple through the Maternal Practice of ‘Arakhin

In the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem, rabbinic literature’s presentation of mothers donating their children’s weight in gold to the Temple – following the rabbinic interpretation of ‘Arakhin – comes to exemplify both piety and tragedy. Continue reading Memorializing the Temple through the Maternal Practice of ‘Arakhin

Purim: A Day Beyond Full Rabbinic Control 

Dr. Barry Wimpfheimer

Excessive drinking on Purim is recommended by the amora Rabbah, in a rare Aramaic ruling that is followed by a strange account of a drunk Rabbah slaughtering his colleague, R. Zeira, at a Purim feast. What are we to make of this shocking law and story, and what do can they teach us about the unique, carnivalesque quality of Purim?

Continue reading Purim: A Day Beyond Full Rabbinic Control