Monday, March 31, 2014
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Margalith, David. (2007). "Cohn, Tobias ben Moses." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. (Vol. 5, pp. 44-45). Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.doid=GALE%7CCX2587504503&v=2.1&u=nysl_me_jethsoa&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w
Muntner, Suesmann, Samuel Vaisrub, Michael A. Denman, Yaakov Naparstek, and Dan Gilon. (2007). "Medicine." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed.(Vol. 13, p720-738). Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=nysl_me_jethsoa&tabID=T003&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm¤tPosition=6&contentSet=GALE%7CCX2587513493&&docId=GALE|CX2587513493&docType=GALE
Ruderman, David B. (1995). Jewish Thought and Scientific Discovery in Early Modern Europe. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Who wrote the play: "Brandeis", in The Eternal Light [New York : Crown, 1947], edited by Morton Wishengrad (1913-1963)? Was it Wishengrad?
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The Berman Jewish Policy Archive is a particularly useful resource for Jewish educators, and professionals involved in Jewish communal service and public policy. Although it is called an "archive" and does contain materials from previous decades, it is an excellent source for materials on current Jewish community issues: as of April 10 2012 it already provides readers with 22 documents from April 2012 and 108 documents from this year.
As stated on its website, the Berman Jewish Policy Archive also "serves as a catalyst for new research, new analysis, and new policy discussions through live events such as conferences, roundtables, lectures, publication launches and salons."
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Some of the books that I looked at:
- In 1934, Louis Gershenfeld published a book titled The Jew in Science, which traces Jewish involvement in the sciences all the way from the Dark Ages until modern times. Time periods covered include the Dark Ages, the time of Maimonides, the Renaissance, the Nineteenth Century, and American history. To provide context, Gershenfeld devotes a chapter to the history of science and a chapter to the history of the Jews. These chapters provide a brief overview of their topics. In addition to discussing more well-known figures such as Maimonides, the book discusses many more obscure Jewish scientists as well.
- To focus more on a specific time period, and one during which Jewish scientists were highly prolific, one can consult Tzvi Langermann’s book titled The Jews and the Sciences in the Middle Ages. Primarily the chapters each deal with one figure: Sa’adya, Ibn Ezra, Maimonides, Nahmanides, Gersonides, Rav Moshe Isserless, and Mordechai Fizzi. However, rather than just providing a biography, the chapters focus on a scientific topic with respect to the particular figure, such as astrology, astronomy, or physics.
- Ruderman’s Jewish Thought and Scientific Discovery in Early Modern Europe provides a comprehensive analysis of Jewish interaction with the sciences during the emerging Enlightenment and age of science. One particularly interesting chapter focuses on Jewish attendance of the medical school at Padua. “In the beginning of the seventeenth century, a constant trickle of Jews were among the hundreds of students who graduated each year from Padua’s medical school.” Some of the chapters focus on specific figures, some well-known and some less well-known, but these chapters serve as a platform for a more thematic analysis as well, such as “Science and Skepticism.” Different geographical areas are covered, such as in the chapter “A Jewish Thinker in Newtonian England,” about David Nieto, a Rabbi in London who also held a medical degree from Padua.
- An interesting book by Tina Levitan, titled The Laureates, provides short biographies of Jewish Nobel prize winners up until 1960, when the book was written. In the preface, the author explains that she has set out “to describe in nontechnical language the work for which it was given.” Levitan’s introduction provides an interesting history of the Nobel Prize in general and discusses the role of Jews in scientific discovery in particular.
- In the biography section, I found one that was of particular interest, that of Lise Meitner, a German-Jewish physicist who was a friend of Einstein’s. One of the great scientists of her time, Meitner escaped Nazi Germany, and was a physicist involved in discovering nuclear fission. Because the author is herself a scientist, the book explains the scientific details of Meitner’s research, and does so in a clear fashion.
- I also found a book titled Jews and Sciences in German Contexts: Case Studies from the 19th and 20th Centuries, edited by Ulrich Chapra and Ute Deichman, which analyzes Jewish involvement in the sciences in Germany during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including a chapter about Einstein. The book is arranged thematically instead of chronologically, and sections include “Research Practices, Achievements, Contexts,” “The Impact of Religious and Ideological Attitudes,” “Anti-Semitism in Academia,” and “Prosopographical Data.” The book deals with a wide range of topics. For example, the second section contains a chapter by Yael Hashiloni-Dolev that compares “German and Israeli Attitudes towards Reproductive Genetics and the Effects of Religion,” and the third section contains a chapter by Aaron Lowenstein that analyzes anti-Semitism in the journal Nature in 1938 as well as a chapter by Ruth Lewin Sime that discusses German Jewish scientists after World War II. Interestingly, Lowenstein’s article contains a reprint of the 1938 article published in Nature.
- For an example of a more modern history of Jews and science, the Vertical Files contain a booklet titled “Profile of the Wiezman Institute of Science,” printed in 1967.
From these works it becomes evident that it is possible to examine the topic of Jews and science through a number of different lenses- historical, geographical, intellectual, and biographical. Due to the vastness of the topic, there are many more books that could be looked at. Given the significant role that Jewish scientists have played in the scientific community over time, this has proven to be a very interesting topic to study.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Answer: Although this term is often translated as "vindication", its literal meaning is "covering of the eyes."
Nahum Sarna's The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis (1989) provides a succinct summary of the literal and figurative meanings of this phrase (p. 144). The ArtScroll Tanach Series commentary on Genesis by Zlotowitz provides a variety of explanations by a range of classical rabbinic commentators. For example:
According to Rashbam, the 1,000 pieces of silver refers to the dowry Abimelech gave Abraham (Sarah's supposed brother) demonstrating Abimelech's honorable intention to legally marry Sarah. Regarding "kesut einayim" Rashi says "The gifts I have given to you will serve to close the eyes of all those who would otherwise have regarded you contemptuously" (Artscroll p. 738)--again emphasizing Abimelech's honorable intentions, the restoration of Sarah's honor and the removal of any disgrace. R' Bachya and Rav Yehudah bar Ilia emphasize the literal meaning of "kesut": a garment. Sarah should wear a garment which will distract the public from noticing her beauty, or a veil which will actually hide Sarah from public view.
Sarna refers us to Moshe Weinfeld's article "Sarah and Abimelech (Genesis 20) Against the Background of an Assyrian Law and the Genesis Apocryphon" in Mélanges Bibliques et Orientaux en l’Honneur de M. Mathias Delcor (1985). Weinfeld demonstrates how a text of Genesis Apocryphon found at Qumran partially verifies Cassuto's 1944 hypothesis that that the transfer of money from Abimelech to Abraham was a standard legal practice in the Middle East in such situations. This Qumran text includes an additional detail in the Abraham/Sarah/Abimelech narrative, which is absent in the Biblical text. An oath is uttered by Abimelech.
Weinfeld quotes a translation of Middle Assyrian Laws: “a man who takes a married woman on a . . . journey with him, without knowing that she is married, must make an oath to that effect [that he did not know she was married] and give two talents of tin to the woman’s husband (Middle Assyrian Laws, I, sect. 22)” p. 431. Weinfeld's conclusion: “we can assume that we have here a practice widespread over the ancient Near East for a period of more than a thousand years.” p. 432
Thursday, December 1, 2011
The above image was sent to the JTS Library. The sender did not know the source of the image. He wanted to know more about it and where it came from. Here is the analysis of the image that I wrote in response:
The design contains two quotes in RaShi script. They read as follows:
Starting from the top left of the circle and heading left and downwards, the words read:
הענן לא היה יכול / לב[ו]א נסתלק ה / הענן נכנס ומדבר / עמו
the cloud he was not able / to enter when the cloud lifted he would enter and speak / with Him
The forward-slashes in my transcription represent spaces. The italicized letter represents the insertion of the first letter of the "word-following-the-space", at the end of the "group-of-words-coming-before-the-space", possibly to guide the reader as to which section to read next. The bracketed letter represents a letter that is found in the source text that I examined (i.e. RaSHI's commentary to the Humash)but is missing from the design.
These words of the design are a quote of some of RaShI’s commentary to Exodus 40:35. I have transcribed RaShi’s commentary from the Bar Ilan Responsa online database’s transcription of the Jerusalem 1959 edition of RaShi’s commentary (itself a reprint of the Vienna 1859 edition). RaShI’s comment here is based on Sifra (Beraita de-Rabi Yishmael, parshah 1, paragraph 8). RaShI’s comment reads as follows:
ולא יכול משה לבוא אל אהל מועד - וכתוב אחד אומר (במדבר ז פט) ובבא משה אל אהל מועד, בא הכתוב השלישי והכריע ביניהם, כי שכן עליו הענן, אמור מעתה כל זמן שהיה עליו הענן לא היה יכול לבוא, נסתלק הענן נכנס ומדבר עמו:
And Moshe was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting – But another verse states (Numbers 7:89) “and when Moshe entered the Tent of Meeting” [a seeming contradiction]? A third verse comes and resolves [the contradiction] between them “because the cloud rested on [the Tent of Meeting]”. We can now explain: as long as the cloud rested on [the Tent of Meeting], he [Moshe] was not able to enter. When the cloud lifted, he [Moshe] would enter and speak with Him:
The bolded words represent the portion of RaShI’s comment included in the design.
Starting from the bottom right of the circle and heading right and upwards and then into the Star of David, the words read:
לעיני כל בני / י' / ישר[א]ל בכל מסעי/הם בכל מסע ש? / שהיו נוסעים ה[י]ה הענן שוכן ב / במקום אשר יחנו שם מקום ח / חנייתם אף הוא קרוי מסע וכן / וילך למס/עיו וכן / אלה מסעי לפי ש[מ]מ/קום הח/נייה חזרו / ונסעו ל / לפיכך / נקראו
Before the eyes of all the Children of Israel in all their journeys in every journey that they journeyed the cloud would rest in the place that they were to encamp the place that they encamped is also called a journey and so and he went according to his journeys and so these are the journeys because from the place of encampment they again journeyed therefore they were called
The meaning of the forward-slashes, small italicized letters, and brackets has been discussed above. The question mark signifies that the preceding letter is unclear and conjectured. The text in blue indicate words that deviate from the version found in the source text I examined.
This part of the design is a quote (with some minor differences) of most of RaShI’s commentary to Exodus 40:38:
לעיני כל בית ישראל בכל מסעיהם – בכל מסע שהיו נוסעים היה הענן שוכן במקום אשר יחנו שם. מקום חנייתן אף הוא קרוי מסע, וכן (בראשית יג ג) וילך למסעיו, וכן (במדבר לג א) אלה מסעי לפי שממקום החנייה חזרו ונסעו, לכך נקראו כולן מסעות:
Before the eyes of all the House of Israel in all their journeys - In every journey that they journeyed the cloud would rest in the place that they were to encamp. The place that they encamped is also called a “journey” and so [we find this expression used elsewhere, as in] “and he went according to his journeys” (Genesis 13:3) and so [as in] “these are the journeys” (Numbers 33:1). [The reason for the word journey being used to mean encampment is] because from the place of encampment they again journeyed, therefore [the places of encampment] were all called “journeys”:
Again, the bolded words represent the portion of RaShI’s commentary included in the design and the text in blue indicates differences from the wording or spelling found in the design.
Despite the identification of the text on which this design is based. We have not yet been able to find the source of the image or understand its significance. If anyone can assist us in doing so, please, let us know in the comments section. Thank you
Monday, October 3, 2011
As I mentioned in a post on 7/18/2011, I have prepared a preliminary bibliography of the works of the contemporary rabbinic scholar, Rabbi Yaakov Hayim Sofer (rosh Yeshivat Kaf ha-Hayim in Israel). See that post for more information about Rabbi Sofer's writings and the methodology of the bibliography. Here is a link to a downloadable PDF of the bibliography: