Justice Denied Revisited

Around this time last year, we discussed the controversy over the theological correctness of the phrase “ולוקח נפשות במשפט” added to ברכת המזון in a house of mourning, in light of the Biblical phrase “וְיֵשׁ נִסְפֶּה בְּלֹא מִשְׁפָּט” and the Talmudic assertion that “יש מיתה בלא חטא”. I have long had a vague sense of […]

There Is That Is Destroyed Unjustly

For S.B., who is blameless and has not yet tasted sin. A provocative Talmudic agadah asserts that some deaths are unjust, citing as an example the bizarre tale of a minion of the Angel of Death whose misinterpretation of his instructions resulted in the termination of the wrong woman: רב יוסף כי מטי להאי קרא […]

Of Mentors, Metaphor, Memory and Meno

To L.O. and M., on the former’s birth day. There is a famous Jewish tradition that a baby is taught the entire Torah in utero by an angel; its most authoritative source is this passage from the Talmud Bavli – Nidah: דרש רבי שמלאי למה הולד דומה במעי אמו לפנקס שמקופל ומונח ידיו על שתי […]