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Rabbi Yakov Nagen

Rabbi Yakov Nagen

Rabbi Dr. Yakov Nagen (Genack) is the Rosh Kollel of Yeshivat Otniel, a Hesder Yeshiva in the Hebron Hills. He is a Musmach of RIETS and a PhD in Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew University. His books, in Hebrew, include “Nishmat HaMishna,” a literary and philosophical approach to the Mishna, “Water, Creation and Divinity: Sukkot in the Philosophy of Halacha” and “Awaking to a New Day: Stories and Insights from Life.”

The Animal Inside Me

March 23, 2012, by

It is quite insulting to call someone an animal. However, even those who don’t believe that humans evolved from monkeys concede that each of us have aspects that we share in common with the animal kingdom. Sifra Detsniuta, one of oldest and most significant parts of the Zohar, presents a conception of humanity in which […]

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Noam’s Hands

March 15, 2012, by

In Judaism, the morning begins with netilat yadayim, pouring water on the hands with a cup. The source of this practice is the ancient practice of the Kohanim in the temple, who daily sanctified their hands and feet. In the temple this practice was part of a reenactment of the process of dedicating the Kohanim, […]

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Questions on God

March 9, 2012, by

There is a remarkable teaching of the Zohar relating to the Chet HaEgal, the sin Golden Calf, which illuminates how we perceive God. The name of God, Elohim is composed of two Hebrew words, Me, meaning ‘Who’ and Ela, ‘This’. These two words reflect two levels of perception of God. On a deeper level God […]

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What’s the Good Word?

March 2, 2012, by

The Midrash teaches that the very clothes that the Kohen Gadol (the high priest of the Temple) wears bring about atonement and that each of his garments rectifies a specific sin. This Midrash includes a very paradoxical statement related to the sin of lashon hara, speaking evil of others. After stating that there is no […]

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Uplifting God

February 24, 2012, by

Professor Shalom Rosenberg once summarized the history of the concept of God with the parable of a puppet show. In the ancient pagan world, people believed that human endeavor is predetermined by the gods, and we are merely puppets where the strings are pulled from above. Part of the revolution in religion that Judaism brought […]

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Justice for Who?

February 17, 2012, by

The juxtaposition of the Torah’s civil law code to the revelation of Har Sinai highlights the significance Judaism places on justice. This message echoes what we have already learnt from the Biblical figures from Avrahem through Moshe. Parshat Mishpatim teaches that justice must be sought not only for fellow Jews but for all of humanity […]

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Family First

February 10, 2012, by

Moshe is leading the Jewish people through the desert, when one day Moshe’s wife, two children and father-in-law, Yitro, arrive. There is great rejoicing at the meeting, but by the next morning, Moshe is already back judging the people from morning to evening. Yitro realizes that something is wrong – taking responsibility for everything will […]

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The World is Art

February 2, 2012, by

The miraculous splitting of the sea evoked a song of praise by the Jewish people for God. In truth, the magnificence of sea itself should have been sufficient to evoke wonder and appreciation of God’s handiwork. However, we have become so blasé to the beauty of the world that we need a miracle in order […]

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Seize the Moment!

January 27, 2012, by

For centuries the Jewish people waited for the day they would be freed from Egypt. When the time finally came they had to leave immediately in order to seize the opportunity for freedom. There was no time to even bake bread for the journey and it is the abstinence from leavened bread, in Hebrew chametz, […]

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Stories Happen to those who Tell Stories

January 20, 2012, by

The story of the exodus is remarkably picturistic. The setting is in the most fascinating location in the ancient world, Egypt of the Pharoahs. The special effects, each of the ten plagues and especially the splitting of the Red Sea, capture the imagination of all who hear the story. This would seem to be highly […]

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