Category Archives: Metaphor

Messy Complexity: On God, Language, and Metaphor

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April 1, 2011

Danya Ruttenberg: Worrying too much about language and metaphor can keep us from being open to surprises in our experience of the divine that belie our safe categories…. We have to learn to become less attached to our metaphors, so we can meet the God who dwells outside of them.  More »

The Golden Calf: Turning Away From God

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April 1, 2011

Ariella Radwin: Fashioning the Golden Calf was not merely the most blasphemous sin of the Jewish people; it is also a metaphor that shapes how we view idolatrous acts.  According to the Golden Calf narrative, the idolatrous sin included doubting God’s presence, creating a material object, and then assuming that the tangible is more powerful than the ineffable.  More »

The Siddur Is the Tool, We Are the Voice: A Roundtable

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April 1, 2011

The Siddur is the Tool, We Are the Voice: A Roundtable with Camille Shira Angel, Edward Feld, Elyse Frishman, and Richard Hirsh: Metaphor helps us understand one thing in terms of something else because we can’t exactly name it. Everything that we say liturgically is approximate, whether it is about God or about us. And yet, how we choose to approximate is a critical decision. The prayer book should present challenges to us and not simply comfort us or smooth life’s rough edges. And, there are consequences to the prayer books’ use; one shouldn’t close the book and walk away without a sense that having had that time with the book has had an impact. Sh’ma asked the editors of recently published prayer books to share their decisions about the use of metaphor: How does metaphor impact one’s prayer life? How is it used in religious language? What changes in the language of contemporary siddurim and machzorim? More »

Discussion Guide – Metaphor

April 1, 2011

1. God as warrior, God as midwife. What role does metaphor play in understanding and deepening our reading of biblical narrative, our relationship to God?
2. In what ways does a prayer book acknowledge the various ways we come to know God? How is metaphor 
a gateway into prayer? Does it open or close a path to a personal God?
3. Are words “incidental” to prayer?
4. What assumptions do you bring to your encounters with text? How are those assumptions complicated by your secular experiences? More »

The Warrior God as Midwife

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April 1, 2011

Jane Kanarek A midrashic passage in the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli, (Sotah 11b) explains that Israel was delivered from Egypt as a reward for the righteous women of that generation. Utilizing verses from Deuteronomy, Ezekiel, the Song of Songs, and Psalms, the Bavli weaves its tale. When the Israelite women go to draw water, God More »

Metaphor in the Qur’an

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April 1, 2011

Reuven Firestone Qur’an/Koran: The writer has requested this transliteration of the Arabic word “Qur’an,” noting that this style reflects a truer pronunciation of the term, that it is preferred by Muslims, and that it is less associated with colonial legacies. Taking these realities into consideration, Sh’ma, which has long used the transliteration “Koran,” has made More »

Binding Metaphors: A Meditation

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April 1, 2011

Aryeh Cohen Bruryah walked into the house and knew immediately that something was not right. She sensed it, but let it go. Rabbi Meir was praying — but that was anything but unusual. He prayed a lot, and when he wasn’t praying, he was learning. The books that lined their living room (though not yet More »

Maimonides, Herzl, and Company

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April 1, 2011

Atar Hadari When I teach writing, I ask people to write down two names: the person they most admire and the one they most despise. Then, depending on which is more interesting (no, don’t admire mom), I ask them to write a scene that makes either their hero seem a heel or their villain seem More »