One of the most quoted Talmudic stories is the story of the Tanur shel Akhnai, the story of a debate between the famous R’ Eliezer ben Hyrcanus on the one side and the rest of the sages of Israel on the other side. This is the story of a dramatic upheaval in the Jewish world, whose echoes continue to reverberate down through the centuries to the present day.
What is the role of fiction in holocaust education? While some argue that fiction and literature have no place at all, one could make a case that The Diary of Anne Frank has done more to cement the lessons of the Holocaust in the minds of real people than any number of documentaries and studies. Art, literature, and film play the same role for civilizations as dreams do for individuals; they allow us to integrate our experiences and learn from them. They allow us not just to remember what happened but to be changed by it.
Yaakov meets the daughter of his mother’s brother at the well, and falls in love with her. What is it about wells that makes them the vehicle for matchmaking? The obvious explanation is that the village well is the community’s vital center—the place where people meet and mingle on a daily basis. Really the question isn’t why wells play so prominent a role in matchmaking, but why the Torah bothers to tell us something so obvious.