‘I kind of fell into it,’ says Robert Alter of his decades-long project of retranslating the Bible, ensuing from a request to write ‘about Genesis or Kafka’
Elon Gilad is an editor and writer at Haaretz.
In the beginning there was a 4th-century Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible, but over the millennia a myriad English translations 'moved vpon the water'
The excuse for not studying Torah on Christian holidays is usually that Jews get attacked on those days, but the original reason has been long forgotten, and is dark indeed
The ancient Israelites, led by Judas Maccabeus, did vanquish the oppressor Antiochus - but Greek rule would only be shaken off 20 years later under Judas' younger brother. A must-read before the holiday begins
Ultra-orthodox yeshiva study isn't about parsing the bible or even studying Oral Law, but an attempt to peer into God's mind
Satan didn’t arise from Hell fully formed. The concept of an ultimate Evil One was apparently borrowed from the Persians and continued to evolve throughout antiquity
The true pronunciation of YHWH has long been lost, partly because 2,500 years ago, Jews decided it was too sacred to say aloud, and failed to preserve the way it was said
It began as a Canaanite festival, superseded Passover among Bible-era Jews and won a disloyal king a royal pelting with etrogim.
The bible says Jews shouldn't do something to a kid in its mother's milk no less than three times, but the meaning of what we're not supposed to do has been lost
A young rabbi in medieval Spain, scandalized by local laxness, sparks a bitter battle over bird on the plate
The bible is rife with references to deities other than Yahweh: The prophets didn't deny these gods existed, they just didn't think Jews should worship them
Revelations associates Megiddo in northern Israel with the end of days, but as the struggle over Jerusalem threatens to bring the apocalypse closer, we may want to revisit that assumption
Once upon a time this day marked the end of a terrible plague. Then revisionism got involved.
It is often said that this is a simple matter of mistranslation, but Vulgate author Saint Jerome would not have made such a crude mistake
Much of today's traditions originated with Babylonian worship, and you have to read this to believe how a calf's head morphed into gefilte fish.
The Prophet Zechariah, for one, seems to think we should be celebrating the construction of the Second Temple, not mourning the loss of the first. But that was then.
Theories for the origin of the word reach into long-forgotten eras of history, and the speculated origin in 'wild cat' isn't necessarily the most fanciful.
Scripture mentions strange visions of nameless single-horned beasts. But what did the ancient word translated as 'unicorn' really mean?
The original use of eggs on both holidays is obscure, but use eggs they both do. Why?
The original Ku Klux Klan had no sartorial code but its second coming sported cone hats - for a very odd reason
Not all orthodox Jews believe they have a claim to the land of Israel here and now, but the few who do are politically very potent.
The word 'Jew' originates with the ancient Israelite kingdom of Judah, but what its name means is a matter of great controversy. It could even mean 'Thank God'.
Haaretz’s house etymologist explains the mistakes by Natalie Portman, born in Israel as Natalie Hershlag. Evidently she's been away a while.
Cannabis has been illegal in the Holy Land longer than nearly any other place on the globe, and it is all because of a particular British gentlemen and an Egyptian doctor.
Donald Trump's pick of banker-cum-Hollywood financier Steven Mnuchin begs the question: What's in his name?
They're missing a crucial element.
How the Bulgarian monk Dionysius Exiguus came up with the Year 1 is anybody's guess
The name of his most famous song, Hallelujah, would seem to stem from his spiritual quest, but its biblical imagery is merely a vehicle for his dark view of love.
Ironically, it seems the Jews took the custom of shaking tree boughs in celebration from a dire enemy 2,000 years ago.
The Bible ties building booths on Sukkot to Exodus, but another explanation may lie in ancient Ugaritic tablets about a Canaanite supplication to Baal.