Va-etchanan 5782

August 9, 2022

This is Torah Talk for the week of August 7th, 2022

Deut. 4:41   Then Moses set aside three cities across [בעבר] the Jordan 42 to which a manslayer could escape.
 
Modern and medievals agree: these words are an appendix – but why is it here?
 

This week’s handout: 45 Va-etchanan 5782

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The Bible’s Many Voices

August 9, 2022

… is currently on sale (in Accordance format) if you don’t have your electronic copy yet!

Devarim 5782

August 2, 2022

This is Torah Talk for the week of July 31st, 2022

Deut. 1:17    You shall not be partial in judgment: hear out low and high alike. Fear no man, for judgment is God’s [כִּ֥י הַמִּשְׁפָּ֖ט לֵאלֹהִ֣ים ה֑וּא].

The words are simple, in English and in Hebrew – “judgment is God’s” – until you stop and ask yourself:  What exactly do they mean?
 

This week’s handout: 44 Devarim 5782

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Mattot-Masei 5782

July 26, 2022

This is Torah Talk for the week of July 24th, 2022

Num. 33:5   The Israelites set out [וַיִּסְע֥וּ] from Rameses and encamped [וַֽיַּחֲנ֖וּ] at Succoth.

Sounds very straightforward, but saying that the Israelites “set out” and “camped” is telling us something about them that’s not obvious from the text.

This week’s handout: 42-43 Mattot-Masei 5782

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Pinchas 5782

July 19, 2022

This is Torah Talk for the week of July 17th, 2022

Num. 26:9  The sons of Eliab were Nemuel, and Dathan and Abiram. These are the same Dathan and Abiram, chosen in the assembly, who agitated against Moses and Aaron as part of Korah’s band when they agitated against the Lord. 10 Whereupon the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with Korah—when that band died, when the fire consumed the two hundred and fifty men—and they became an example [וַיִּהְי֖וּ לְנֵֽס].

nes is not an “example” anywhere else in the Bible – why doe it mean that here?

This week’s handout: 41 Pinchas 5782

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Balak 5782

July 12, 2022

This is Torah Talk for the week of July 10th, 2022

Num. 23:7  He took up his theme [וַיִּשָּׂ֥א מְשָׁל֖וֹ], and said:

Is a mashal really a “theme”? What does it mean to “take up” a mashal? And why does this phrase pervade the story of Balaam?

This week’s handout: 40 Balak 5782

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Hukkat 5782

July 5, 2022

This is Torah Talk for the week of July 3rd, 2022

In Num. 20:17 the Israelites say they “will follow the king’s highway  [דֶּ֧רֶךְ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ נֵלֵ֗ךְ],” and in v. 19 that they “will keep to the beaten track [בַּֽמְסִלָּ֣ה נַעֲלֶה֒].”

Are these two roads or one? What kind of road is a mesillah? And what does this tell us about Jacob’s ladder?

This week’s handout: 39 Hukkat 5782

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Korah 5782

June 28, 2022

This is Torah Talk for the week of June 26th, 2022

Num. 16:30 But if the LORD brings about something unheard-of [וְאִם־בְּרִיאָ֞ה יִבְרָ֣א יְ׳הוָ֗ה], so that the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, you shall know that these men have spurned the LORD.”

Did the Lord really “bring about something unheard-of,” and is that really what בְּרִיאָ֞ה means?

This week’s handout: 38 Korah 5782

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Shelach Lecha 5782

June 21, 2022

This is Torah Talk for the week of June 19th, 2022

Num. 14:10  As the whole community threatened to pelt them with stones, the Presence of the Lord appeared in the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites.

This week, two (seemingly) simple questions:  Who is “them” that the community is threatening to stone, and why does the Presence of the Lord appear?

This week’s handout: 37 Shelach Lecha 5782

Read Joseph Ginsburg’s “Fragment of the Month” column (and see the Genizah fragments) at this link.

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Beha’alotcha 5782

June 14, 2022

This is Torah Talk for the week of June 12th, 2022

Num. 11:25    Then the Lord came down in a cloud and spoke to him; He drew upon the spirit that was on him and put it upon the seventy elders. And when the spirit rested upon them, they spoke in ecstasy, but did not continue [וְלֹ֥א יָסָֽפוּ].

The words וְלֹ֥א יָסָֽפוּ look so simple … but what do they really mean, and why do these 70 elders play no role in the rest of the story?

This week’s handout: 36 Beha’alotcha 5782

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