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Go to Ammon and Moab Go to Ammon and Moab
Monday, February 25, 2013 by Daniel Gordis | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Imagining themselves to be the wise men consulted on Vashti’s fate, the Rabbis deferred to the Jews’ enemies, saying, “from the day when we were exiled from our land, wisdom has been taken from us."
A Meditation on <i>Maoz Zur</i> A Meditation on Maoz Zur
Monday, December 10, 2012 by Ismar Schorsch | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In this 1988 essay, Ismar Schorsch writes that the much maligned final stanza of  Maoz Zur, which calls for divine retribution against Israel’s enemies, illustrates a distinction between redemption within history and the ultimate redemption, which must come from without.
The Month of Return The Month of Return
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 by Tevi Troy and Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The Jewish month of Av will soon become Ellul, and mourning for the destruction of the Temples will give way to repentance for our sins.  It is time for introspection; and, as we contemplate our relationships with others and with the Divine, questions about penitence, forgiveness, change, and mortality itself inevitably arise.
The Book of Life The Book of Life
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 by Tevi Troy | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The High Holy Days are traditionally a time for introspection. Even the sturdiest soul must pause with trepidation over the more harrowing passages in the somber liturgy of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Who shall live, and who shall die?
Repentance = Freedom? Repentance = Freedom?
Thursday, September 2, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the thick of the month of Ellul, nearing Rosh Hashanah, penitence is or should be in the air. Also recently marked was the 75th yahrzeit of the great mystic, jurist, and theologian Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935).  As it turns out, Kook's  teachings on the meaning of repentance are among his most striking, stamped with his distinctive mix of piety and audacity. In his eyes, teshuvah, generally translated as "repentance" but literally and more powerfully "return," signifies not only a deepened and renewed commitment to religion and commandments but, paradoxically, nothing less than a new birth of freedom.
Editors' Picks
The Festival of Exile Adin Steinsaltz, Jewish Journal. The story of Megillat Esther, says Steinsaltz, "looks like a simplistic melodrama" but "takes on a serious meaning as the mirror of Jewish history."
Why Are We Still Fasting? Daniel Pinner, Arutz Sheva. Both Purim and Pesach celebrate the deliverance of the Jewish people.  But the fast preceding each festival reminds us that "to achieve redemption, we first have to go through a measure of suffering."
Israel's First Election Leah Abramowitz, Moses Yekutiel Alpert, Orthodox Union. "After 2,000 years of Exile, actually since the six days of Creation, we have never had an opportunity as today—that we can go and vote in a Jewish State." (1949)