Who Was Rabbi Moshe Cordovero?

  The sixteenth century witnessed a phenomenal, short-lived explosion of Jewish spiritual creativity, centered in the sleepy Galilean town of Safed (Tsfat). Along with greats such as Rabbi Yosef Karo, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero was one of the founders of that unusual place, attracting still more Rabbis and especially Kabbalists to the mountaintop community, including Rabbi […]

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Who Was Nahmanides?

A brilliant 13th-century scholar of Rabbinic thought, Nahmanides’ defense of Judaism in a forced Church-sponsored debate earned him exile from his native Spain. An elderly sage, he emigrated to the Land of Israel, where he found a tiny Jewish community, desperately hanging onto the traditions of their ancestors. Summoning upon an immense reserve of energy, […]

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Who Was Rabbi Akiva?

Certainly one of the greatest Rabbis of the entire Talmud, Akiva son of Joseph did not begin his study of Judaism before adulthood. His trajectory of incredible spiritual growth was punctuated by moments of great personal tragedy, and his martyrdom at the hands of the Romans after the failed second-century Bar-Kochba revolt has an enduring […]

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Who Was King Herod?

One of the greatest builders of ancient Israel, King Herod exploited his power as a Roman-sponsored ruler to develop the Temple, yet earned a reputation as a feared tyrant responsible for horrific massacres. HIs rule set the tone for the political climate in the Land of Israel during the tumultuous decades prior to the growth […]

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Who Was Yohanan Kohen Gadol?

Born in the times of the Hasmonean rebellion celebrated with the holiday of Chanukah, Yohanan Cohen Gadol was one of the most prominent Jewish leaders during the brief period of Jewish freedom in the 2nd century BCE. Caught in the swirling controversy of internal religious debate, in his old age he abandoned his Pharisaic roots […]

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Who Was King David?

“Sweet singer of Israel,” David was the poet-warrior King who led the Jewish people to political and cultural prominence. Denied his most cherished goal of building the Temple, he lived a life of great personal challenge and heroic resurgence from tragedy, and his biography left an indelible mark on the Jewish understanding of leadership.

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