Korah 5778

June 12, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of June 10th, 2018

Num. 17:25   The LORD said to Moses, “Put Aaron’s staff back before the Pact, to be kept as a lesson to rebels, so that their mutterings against Me may cease, lest they die.” 26 This Moses did; just as the LORD had commanded him, so he did.

But … what happened to it, and to the jar of manna that was supposedly also there?

This week’s handout: 38 Korah 5778

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Shelach Lecha 5778

June 5, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of June 3rd, 2018

Numbers 14 – The Israelites are told they will die in the desert and only their children will enter the land.

Numbers 16 – The Korah Rebellion

And in between them … a bunch of miscellaneous laws.  What are they doing there?  And why are the laws so carefully integrated into Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy just tossed into Numbers any which way?

This week’s handout: 37 Shelach Lecha 5778

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Beha’alotcha 5778

May 29, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of May 27th, 2018

Num. 8:2

Moses is told to instruct Aaron, “When you mount the lamps, let the seven lamps give light at the front of the lampstand.”

But what does אל-מול פני המנורה really mean?  And where is the one surprising place it’s used outside of priestly literature?

This week’s handout:  36 Beha’alotcha 5778

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Naso 5778

May 22, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of May 20th, 2018

Num. 5:12 If any man’s wife has gone astray [כי-תשטה אשתו] and broken faith with him …

“Going astray” is a familiar biblical topic — and so is a woman cheating on her husband.  But the verb used for it in this passage about the “sotah” is extremely rare.  Where else does it occur?

This week’s handout:  35 Naso 5778

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Bemidbar 5778

May 15, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of May 13th, 2018

Num. 3:7 They shall perform duties for him and for the whole community before the Tent of Meeting, doing the work of the Tabernacle.

But how can the Tabernacle and the Tent of Meeting be the same thing when the Tent of Meeting existed — OUTSIDE the camp — before the Tabernacle was created?

This week’s handout:  34 Bemidbar 5778

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Behar-Behukkotai 5778

May 8, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of May 6th, 2018

Lev. 27:2-3 … When anyone explicitly vows to the Lord the equivalent for a human being [בערכך נפשות], the following scale shall apply.

But what is an ערכך?

This week’s handout:  32-33 Behar-Behukkotai 5778

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Emor 5778

May 1, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of April 29th, 2018

Lev. 23:5   In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, there shall be a passover offering to the Lord, 6 and on the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread. You shall eat unleavened bread for seven days.

Two holidays in one!

This week’s handout:  31 Emor 5778

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Aharei Mot-Kedoshim 5778

April 24, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of April 22nd, 2018

Lev. 18:21 Do not allow any of your offspring to be offered up to Molech, and do not profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

Jacob Milgrom: “But who is Molech?”

This week’s handout:  29-30 Aharei Mot-Kedoshim 5778

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Tazria-Metzora 5778

April 17, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of April 15th, 2018

Lev. 6:2 This is the ritual of the burnt offering:

Lev. 6:7 And this is the ritual of the meal offering:

Lev. 6:18 This is the ritual of the sin offering:

Lev. 7:1 This is the ritual of the guilt offering:

So why is Lev 14:2 “This shall be the ritual for a leper”?  And who is the one commentator who evens asks that question?

This week’s handout:  27-28 Tazria-Metzora 5778

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Shemini 5778

March 27, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the weeks of March 25th and April 8th, 2018

Lev. 11:46      These are the instructions concerning animals, birds, all living creatures that move in water, and all creatures that swarm on earth, 47 for distinguishing between the unclean and the clean, between the living things that may be eaten and the living things that may not be eaten.

But why?  The High Priest supposedly explained it all to Aristeas …

This “week’s” handout:  26 Shemini 5778


Click here for Elli Fischer’s article about Azariah de Rossi and the Letter of Aristeas.

Click here for an online translation of the letter (also clickable from Fischer’s article).

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