What’s In A Name?

My weekly lectures (available at the Internet Archive) and column for this past פרשת במדבר discussed the legitimacy of the use of non-Jewish names by Jews: In parashas Bemidbar (1:2), Hashem commands Moshe to count the Jews “with the number of their names”. The Sforno explains that this census (as opposed to the one at […]

Muslim Ms. Marvel Mines Mishnah and Midrash

Noah Berlatsky, in the Atlantic: Ms. Marvel, the Marvel superhero comic that debuted last month, has gotten a ton of media coverage because of what makes it unique. Mainstream superheroes are almost all white and almost all guys, and women of color virtually never carry their own titles. Even the X-Men’s Storm, a widely recognized […]

Pagan Theophory In Jewish Anthroponyms

Esther No one really knows whether the Biblical name Esther is related to the Assyro-Babylonian goddess(es) Ishtar. As per the Wikipedia Talk page for Ishtar: “Anunit, Atarsamain and Esther are alternative names for Ishtar.” I have removed the sentence from the article lead; article Atarsamain makes no mention of the goddess being a counterpart of […]