Toledot 5781

November 17, 2020

Gen. 25:29  Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the open, famished [עָיֵֽף].
30And Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, for I am famished”—which is why he was named Edom.

Why does the Torah say that Esau is עיף (which usually means “fatigued”) rather than רעב, “hungry”?

This week’s handout: 06 Toledot 5781

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Hayyei Sarah 5781

November 10, 2020

This is Torah Talk for the week of November 8th, 2020

Gen. 24:19 When she had let him drink his fill, she said, “I will also draw for your camels, until they finish drinking.”

Believe it or not, when these camels finish drinking, they will point us to another book in the Bible that’s closely connected to the story of Genesis 24 — the book of Ruth.  Jack Sasson, who wrote an article on Genesis 24 and a commentary on Ruth, helps me explain how.

This week’s handout: 05 Hayyei Sarah 5781

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Vayera 5781

November 3, 2020

This is Torah Talk for the week of November 1st, 2020

Gen. 22:14       And Abraham named that site Adonai-yireh [יִרְאֶה], whence the present saying, “On the mount of the Lord there is vision [יֵרָאֶֽה].”

The Hebrew words seem to be winking at us to say that this is Mount Moriah — and don’t forget that this is a man whose first stop in Canaan was at the terebinth of Moreh.  But is this really “the mountain of the Lord”?

This week’s handout: 04 Vayera 5781

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Lech Lecha 5781

October 27, 2020

 

This is Torah Talk for the week of October 25th, 2020

Gen. 12:5         Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the wealth that they had amassed, and the persons that they had made [וְאֶת־הַנֶּ֖פֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר־עָשׂ֣וּ] in Haran; and they set out for the land of Canaan.

The medieval commentators explain what it is to “make” a person — and Albert Baumgarten explains how you do it.

This week’s handout: 03 Lech Lecha 5781

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Noach 5781

October 20, 2020

Gen. 11:4         And they said, “Come, let us build us a city, and a tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world.”

Amazingly, this tower has a name — and you can click below to see a picture of its remains. How do we know? Because בבל is not “Babel” — it is “Babylon.”

This week’s handout:  Noach 5781

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Click here to see one of the bricks from this story!
Click here for a stereographic view of the excavation.

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Bereshit 5781

October 13, 2020

This is Torah Talk for the week of October 11th, 2020

In Gen 2:6 we learn that an אֵד rises up to water the ground. But … what is an eid, and when did this happen?

 

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V’zot ha-Bracha 5780-81

October 6, 2020

This is Torah Talk for the week of October 4th, 2020

At the end of Deuteronomy, we simultaneously go back to begin Genesis again and continue on by beginning to read Joshua.  The link between them?  It is the bones of Joseph.

This week’s handout: 54 V’zot ha-Bracha 5780-81

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• click here for Vayeshev 5780 and a link there to Greenstein’s essay on thetorah.com
• click here for Marc Brettler’s essay “Is the Torah a Pentateuch or Hexateuch?”
• click here to let me know how long you’ve been listening!

Ha’azinu 5780-81

September 22, 2020

This is Torah Talk for the week of September 20th, 2020

Deut 32:1 tells the heavens to “give ear” [האזינו] and the earth to “listen” [תשמע] — using the fancy poetic word first and the prosaic word second.  We’ll explore why, with help from Edward L. Greenstein, JeffreyTigay, H. L. Ginsberg, Moshe Seidel, and the prophet Isaiah.

This week’s handout: 53 Ha’azinu 5780-81

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Sorry for misspeaking this week; Kugel’s book is The Idea of Biblical Poetry.

Nitzavim-Vayelech 5780

September 8, 2020

This is Torah Talk for the week of September 6th, 2020

Deut 29:10 mentions (male) woodchoppers and water-drawers as if they were non-Israelites — but elsewhere drawing water is a (local) women’s job, not one for foreign slaves.  What’s going on here … and what did the author of Ruth think about it all?

This week’s handout: 51-52 Nitzavim-Vayelech 5780

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• click here for my Bible Odyssey article on “Sexual Harassment in the Book of Ruth”
• haven’t read this yet, but now you can click here for an article on the subject by Dr. Wendy Love Anderson on thetorah.com

How to PRINT the Hebrew Alphabet

September 3, 2020

One thing that learners of Hebrew often have difficulty with is learning how to write the Hebrew alphabet.  (And you do need to learn how to write, for everything

– from making flashcards and vocabulary lists

– through writing down verb conjugations in order to learn them

– to translating into Biblical Hebrew as your study goes deeper.

But Biblical Hebrew is always printed in a font with serifs:

The same text in a sans-serif font would look like this:

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

But students see the letters as they’re presented in textbooks and in the Bible itself and try to copy the serifs.  It’s almost as tedious for me to read as it is for them to write.

So I’ve created a little Zoom lecture that shows you how to print the Hebrew letters in a quick and readable way.  I can’t post the video to WordPress, but if you email the Bible Guy (via the link in the right sidebar) I will send you a link to it.  (Click on the “Bible Guy” banner at the top of the page to see the sidebar.)

You will have to prove you’re not a robot to send me an email, so it may take a while before I see it; please be patient.  If you are a robot, just leave me a robocall. 🙂