Vayetze 5779

November 13, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of November 11th, 2018

Gen. 31:38  “These twenty years I have spent in your service, your ewes and she-goats never

miscarried, nor did I feast on rams from your flock. 39 That which was torn by beasts I never

brought to you; I myself made good the loss; you exacted it of me, whether snatched by day or

snatched by night.

“A fine picture of the ideal shepherd” … or full of allusions to the intricate plot that is leading the Israelites to slavery in Egypt?

This week’s handout: 07 Vayetze 5779

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Toledot 5779

November 6, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of November 4th, 2018

Gen. 25:24 When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first one emerged red, like a hairy mantle all over; so they named him Esau.c

Since the verse doesn’t really explain it … what does “Esau” actually mean?  Listener Haim Roitman thinks he knows.

This week’s handout:  06 Toledot 5779

Haim Roitman’s essay:  Haim Roitgrund-Cain & Abel v Jacob & Esau

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Hayyei Sarah 5779

October 30, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of October 28th, 2018

Gen. 25:5  Abraham willed all that he owned to Isaac; 6 but to Abraham’s sons by concubines Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and he sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the East.

Wait … what exactly is a concubine? 

This week’s handout:  05 Hayyei Sarah 5779

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Vayera 5779

October 23, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of October 21st, 2018

Gen. 22:9          They arrived at the place of which God had told him. Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood; he bound his son Isaac; he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.  10 And Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son.

What’s wrong with this picture? 

This week’s handout:  04 Vayera 5779

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Lech Lecha 5779

October 16, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of October 14th, 2018

Gen. 12:2

I will make of you a great nation,

And I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

And you shall be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you

And curse him that curses you;

And all the families of the earth

Shall bless themselves by you.”

What is Gen 12:3 really saying — and what is the bigger issue? 

This week’s handout:  03 Lech Lecha 5779
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Noach 5779

October 9, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of October 7th, 2018

Gen. 6:17          “For My part, I am about to bring the Flood [הַמַּבּ֥וּל] —waters upon the earth.”

What exactly is a מַּבּ֥וּל, and where did that word come from?

This week’s handout:  02 Noach 5779
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Bereshit 5779

October 2, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of September 30th, 2018

Gen. 1:1

  When God began to createa heaven and earth— 2 the earth being תֹ֨הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind fromb God sweeping over the water— 3 God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day.c

What does תֹ֨הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ mean? 

NJPS:              unformed and void

KJV:                without form, and void

NRSV:             a formless void

LXX:              ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος  [“invisible and not properly prepared”]

Everett Fox:    wild and waste

Jack Sasson:    “Hodgepodge” [“Time … to Begin,” in Sha’arei Talmon,188]

This week’s handout:  01 Bereshit 5779
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V’zot ha-Bracha 5778-79

September 25, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of September 23rd, 2018

Deut. 33:28

Thus Israel dwells in safety,

Untroubled is Jacob’s abode, בדד עין יעקב

In a land of grain and wine, אל-ארץ דגן ותירוש

Under heavens dripping dew.

What makes Jacob “untroubled,” and what is his “abode”?

This week’s handout:  54 V’zot ha-Bracha 5778-79
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Biblical Hebrew Starter Kit

September 18, 2018

In this post, I’m providing a “Biblical Hebrew Starter Kit” in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.

It is just the very first possible lesson in learning how to read Biblical Hebrew by decoding the letters and the vowels.

If you have any suggestions for improvement you can make them in the comments or e-mail them to me (see the sidebar).  And of course I’ll be grateful if you catch any mistakes.  But I most likely won’t be able to help with any technical problems (sorry).

Here’s the kit:

Biblical Hebrew Starter Kit

Happy learning!  And of course do feel free to share the kit as widely as possible!

Ha’azinu 5778-79

September 18, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of September 16th, 2018

Deut 32:4

The Rock!—His deeds are perfect,

Yea, all His ways are just;

A faithful God, never false,

True and upright is He.

What was “The Book of Jashar”?  According to Ed Greenstein, Deuteronomy 32:4 holds the answer.

This week’s handout:  53 Ha’azinu 5778-79
Read Ed Greenstein’s article here:
Learn Biblical Hebrew: