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24. The Interpretation of Prophetic Allegories
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Prophets would sometimes receive their prophecies in the form of allegories. In such a case, they would be shown or told the allegory, followed by its meaning. [II, 43] In dreams, it is possible for a person to believe that he is awake. In his dream, he can even relate a dream to another person, […]
First Born, First Fruits, and Concluding Thoughts
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Twenty-Two Nisan First-borns matter in Judaism. Rambam lists eight Biblical commandments that relate to first-born animals or people, and Ramban adds another, meaning that a percent and a half of all Biblical commandments show us how to deal properly with first-borns. Studying the significance the Torah gives these issues, and why it sees them as […]
Treating Converts Well and Carefully
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Twenty Nisan The Torah reminds us repeatedly to handle the stranger/convert with extra care. Shmot 22;20 and Vayikra 19;33, for two central texts, warn us not להונות the stranger and also not ללחוץ him or her. The Talmudic assumption is that the words indicate verbal and monetary abuse respectively. There are many good reasons to […]
Limiting the Slavery of Jews
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Nineteen Nisan The word slavery has very specific connotations in our times, given the horrors American slave-owners visited upon their slaves (and then that other Americans visited upon freed blacks, as Ta-Nehisi Coates has noted in The Atlantic). But the mitzvot the Torah sets up around slavery show that that’s not the only way for […]
Pesach All Year: Unexpected Mitzvot of Remembering Egypt
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Fifteen Nisan It doesn’t take much education to know Jews are supposed to remember the Exodus—we have the holiday of Pesach, which includes specific obligations to remind us of the events, such as telling the story at length Seder night, and avoiding leavened bread and eating matzah for seven days. Shabbat and the other major […]
Putting Ourselves Into the Haggadah
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Fourteen Nisan Tonight’s the night. All the work we’ve done these past two weeks will be put to the test, to see if we indeed walk away feeling more like we ourselves left Egypt. As one last piece, allow me to share some of the insights my father shared at his Seder, insights I find […]