Metzora 5779

April 9, 2019

Why does the priest smear blood on the leper’s ear, thumb, and toe?

Torah Talk for the week of April 7th, 2019

Lev 14:14    The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the ridge of the right ear of him who is being cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.

This week’s handout: 28 Metzora 5779

Click here for NIH “Anatomy of the Ear” website.

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Tazria 5779

April 2, 2019

Why does becoming completely leprous make you “pure”?

Torah Talk for the week of March 31st, 2019

Lev 13:12      If the eruption spreads out over the skin so that it covers all the skin of the affected person from head to foot, wherever the priest can see— 13 if the priest sees that the eruption has covered the whole body—he shall pronounce the affected person clean; he is clean, for he has turned all white.

This week’s handout: 27 Tazria 5779

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Shemini 5779

March 26, 2019

This is Torah Talk for the week of March 24th, 2019

Lev 9:1       On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel. 2 He said to Aaron: “Take a calf of the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and bring them before the Lord. 3 And speak to the Israelites, saying: Take a he-goat for a sin offering; a calf and a lamb, yearlings without blemish, for a burnt offering; 4 and an ox and a ram for an offering of well-being to sacrifice before the LORD; and a meal offering with oil mixed in. For today the LORD will appear [נראה] to you.”

But the Hebrew is more mysterious than the translations make it appear.

This week’s handout: 26 Shemini 5779

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Tzav 5779

March 19, 2019

This is Torah Talk for the week of March 17th, 2019

Lev 7:1        This is the ritual of the guilt offering: it is most holy. 2 The guilt offering shall be slaughtered at the spot where the burnt offering is slaughtered, and the blood shall be dashed on all sides of the altar. 3 All its fat shall be offered: the broad tail; the fat that covers the entrails; 4 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them at the loins; and the protuberance on the liver, which shall be removed with the kidneys. 5 The priest shall turn them into smoke on the altar as an offering by fire to the LORD; it is a guilt offering. 6 Only the males in the priestly line may eat of it; it shall be eaten in the sacred precinct: it is most holy.

Did the priests really offer dozens of animals every day and never wonder what omen the liver was concealing?

This week’s handout: 25 Tzav 5779

Click here for Uri Gabbay’s essay on thetorah.com.

Click here for the National Library of Medicine page with a model of a liver used to interpret the omens.

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Vayikra 5779

March 12, 2019

This is Torah Talk for the week of March 10th, 2019

Exod 40:33          … When Moses had finished the work, 34 the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of the LORD filled the Tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud had settled upon it and the Presence of the LORD filled the Tabernacle. …      Lev 1:1           The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting

Are the Tabernacle and the Tent of Meeting the same thing, or aren’t they?  Who uses which term?  And … is Leviticus the sequel to Exodus, or is Numbers?

This week’s handout: 24 Vayikra 5779

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Pekudei 5779

March 5, 2019

This is Torah Talk for the week of March 3rd, 2019

Exod 38:21  These are the records [פקודי] of the Tabernacle …

Doesn’t the use of פקד here suggest that Exodus should really be followed by ספר הפקודים, the Book of Numbers?

This week’s handout: 23 Pekudei 5779

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Vayakhel 5779

February 26, 2019

This is Torah Talk for the week of February 24th, 2019

Exod 38:8  He made the laver of copper and its stand of copper, from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks [הצבאת] at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.

Who exactly are these women … what are they doing … why is the laver made from these mirrors … and how did Moses get them?

This week’s handout: 22 Vayakhel 5779

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Ki Tisa 5779

February 19, 2019

This is Torah Talk for the week of February 17th, 2019

Exod 30:11  The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 12  When you take a census of the Israelite people …

But … why is this commandment given here?  And what is it interrupting in ch. 30 as a whole?

This week’s handout: 21 Ki Tisa 5779

More links:
https://alhatorah.org/Purpose_and_Placement_of_the_Incense_Altar
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Tetzaveh 5779

February 12, 2019

This is Torah Talk for the week of February 10th, 2019

Exod. 27:21  Aaron and his sons shall set them up in the Tent of Meeting.

Exod. 28:1   You shall bring forward your brother Aaron, with his sons, from among the Israelites, to serve Me as priests …

Exod. 29:2   … And so they shall have priesthood as their right for all time.  You shall then ordain Aaron and his sons.

Wait … what?  Why was Aaron chosen to found the hereditary priesthood?  And why was he at work before this command?

This week’s handout:  20 Tetzaveh 5779

More links:
James W. Watts, “Scripturalization and the Aaronide Dynasties” http://www.jhsonline.org/Articles/article_186.pdf
Ryan Bonfiglio, “Priests and Priesthood in the Hebrew Bible” http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com/resource/priests.xhtml
Mark Leuchter, “Who Were the Levites?” https://thetorah.com/who-were-the-levites/
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Terumah 5779

February 5, 2019

This is Torah Talk for the week of February 3rd, 2019

Exod. 25:16   And deposit in the Ark [the tablets of] the Pact [העדות] which I will give you.

What is an edut [עדות], and why did God want them put in the Ark?

This week’s handout:  19 Terumah 5779

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