Peretz Rodman


Reluctant Prophets, Humble Leaders

By Peretz Rodman

‘My lord Moses, restrain them!” So shouts Joshua as he and Moses observe that two men, Eldad and Medad, are behaving as prophets within the Israelite encampment (Numbers 11:28). Prophecy, after all, is Moses’ claim to authority. Should it be discovered that Moses has no monopoly on prophetic powers, perhaps his authority would be eroded, his leadership subject to challenge. Joshua, as his loyal acolyte, is acutely sensitive to that danger.Read More


Glory From Garments

By Peretz Rodman

Back when “multimedia” implied the use of a bank of slide projectors and a stereo sound system, coordinated by an electronic device designed especially for that purpose, one site on the tourist circuit of Boston was a “multimedia” show about the city, “Where’s Boston?” One detail in a series of visual images from a celebration by an African American fraternal organization caught my eye. It was the red fez worn by each of the members, each fez adorned with the words “Holy to the Lord.” I wondered, as I noticed it, whether anyone else recognized the inscription as the one that appears on the headpiece of Aaron, the original high priest of the Israelite cult, in this week’s Torah portion (in Exodus 28:36-38).Read More


Jacob’s Camps, Jacob’s Gifts

By Peretz Rodman

More than one Jewish summer camp director has a jocular placard in his office displaying this half-verse from Psalm 27: “Though a camp be encamped against me, my heart will not fear….” Okay, true, that’s a somewhat wooden translation of the verse, which might be more clearly rendered: “Should an army besiege me, my heart will not fear….” What makes the joke work is that the Hebrew term for camp, machaneh, has a semantic range like that of its English equivalent, extending from the military (“Camp Pendleton”) to the recreational (“Camp Mohican”). In modern Hebrew, it encompasses the political sense of “camp,” as well.Read More


Place and Time and Rest

By Peretz Rodman

‘Across the Jordan, things will be different,” Moses warns his listeners. “Up to now, everyone has done as he pleased.” In Canaan, though, things will be properly regulated; sacrifices will be made only in “the place where God will choose to establish His name.” In Deuteronomy 12:9, Moses uses two words to describe that promised land: menuhah, meaning “rest” or “resting place,” and nahalah, the term for one’s ancestral landholding, the primary form of wealth. The two terms reappear in the next verse as verbs: “When you cross the Jordan and settle in the land that the Eternal your God is giving-as-an-inheritance (manhil) to you and he gives-rest (ve-heniah) to you from all your enemies round about….”Read More


Shelumiel — The First Schlemiel?

By Peretz Rodman

In the German Colony neighborhood of Jerusalem, a leafy residential lane bears the name Yitzhak Crémieux Street. If that name sounds only half-familiar, perhaps the name Adolphe Crémieux rings a louder bell? A prominent Jewish political figure in 19th-century France, Crémieux combined a long career in elective office with service to theRead More



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