What does extending credit have to do with the evolution of sentient life? And what does either concept have to do with karma and conservation laws? The answer depends on whether your interlocutor is a cat.
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.
Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish are two of the greatest sparring partners in the Talmud. The story of their meeting and later falling out contains an unlooked-for treasure on the subject of moral responsibility.
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo speculates on the implications of resurgent memory in our day. Could it be that we are witnessing the revival of the dead without even recognizing it? “Isaiah’s words, ‘the earth will reveal her bloodshed and will no longer cover her slain,’ are eerily appropriate to the phenomenon described in this book: a memory from beyond the grave takes form and substance, and stands in accusation against the murderers. … Could this phenomenon be the fulfillment of the prophetic vision?”
The Egyptian experience, not as a historical fact, but as a deeply-felt cultural motif, penetrates and pervades all subsequent Jewish law. The commandment to “love the stranger” appears no fewer than 36 times in the Biblical text, and serves as the basis of derivation of countless later customs and laws. The relevance of the Exodus story goes beyond mere factual truth; its true significance lies in what we’ve built on it and how it has molded us as a people who, in every generation, have made it our own.