Archives November 2003

Was Yitzchak Avinu retarded?

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Some years ago, at a synagogue that shall remain nameless, I came across a surprising d’var Torah, attributed to a rabbi at Yeshiva University. It said that Isaac’s behavior and personality reminded the author of developmentally delayed adults he had worked with. The theory intrigued me on a number of levels.

First, it makes sense ...

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Are unhappy biblical bigynous families all alike?

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Joseph Telushkin, in Jewish Literacy, pointed out that even though the biblical law permits polygamy, the biblical narrative advises against it. Whenever a man in the Tanakh has two wives, it seems to be an unhappy marriage: one wife is beloved but infertile, and the other one is fertile but unloved. We’ve already seen this ...

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Richard M. Stallman, call your rabbi

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

In Genesis 25:6, it says, “to the sons of Abraham’s concubines, he gave gifts.” My wife pointed out a Rashi on this verse, saying that these gifts were shem tum’ah, “impure names” that could be used for sorcery. Gur Aryeh (cited in the ever-helpful Reb Footnote) explains where the rabbis got this idea ...

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What you can observe from a verb

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

(Yeah, if I had read the parsha earlier in the week, I would have had time to post a drash before Shabbat, and it would probably be a better one, too. `Al chet, `al chet. I’ll try to do better this week. Bli neder.)

While reading the parsha, I noticed something in Genesis 18:17 ...

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Property and propriety

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Michael Freund proposes that the Israeli Foreign Ministry pressure European governments to return Jewish land that was seized, not just by the Nazis and Soviets, but by medieval European governments.

Eugene Volokh objects:

The principles that bona fide purchasers can’t get rightful possession of stolen property, and that corporate bodies may have obligations that persist ...

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This is not Genesis 16

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

And Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not had a child by him, and she had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. And Sarai said to Avram, “Behold, the Eternal has held me back from childbirth. Please, go to my maidservant; perhaps I will be built up through her.”

And Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, babe, the ...

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A legal disclaimer

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Until the Supreme Court clarifies our liability, I’d just like to state for the record that the YeshOmrimMobile is a drug-free vehicle, and we expect all of our passengers to keep it that way.

Flat, but not too flat

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Conservatives, rejoice! Not only is Iraq proving that an armed society is a polite society, but the American viceroyCoalition Provisional Authority administrator has decreed a flat tax of 15 percent for all individual and corporate income. For anyone looking to snicker at the way the Bush Administration is handling the post-“Mission Accomplished” era, this order ...

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