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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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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:
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Vayelech 5778-79

September 11, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of September 9th, 2018

Deut. 31:7  Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: “Be strong and

resolute [חזק ואמץ], for it is you who shall go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their

fathers to give them.

Joshua is going to hear this phrase again 4 times in chapter 1 of his own book.

And guess who else is going to hear it?

This week’s handout:  52 Vayelech 5778-79
Click here for Ben Sommer’s column on Psalm 27 (לדוד).
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Nitzavim 5778

September 4, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of September 2nd, 2018

Deut. 29:27  “The LORD uprooted them from their soil in anger, fury, and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as is still the case [כיום הזה].”

Why is the ל so big?  What does “as is still the case” mean?  “The LORD uprooted them” points us to an answer

This week’s handout:  51 Nitzavim 5778
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Ki Tavo 5778

August 28, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of August 26th, 2018

Deut. 28:51 … leaving you nothing of new grain, wine, or oil [דגן תירוש ויצהר]

What are these three unusual words?  Why doesn’t this expression use the normal words for wine [יין] or oil [שמן]?

This week’s handout:  50 Ki Tavo 5778Donate:

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Ki Tetze 5778

August 21, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of August 19th, 2018

Deut. 22:6  If, along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young. 7 Let the mother go, and take only the young, in order that you may fare well and have a long life.

The promise that you will “fare well and have a long life” for following this commandment invokes another commandment as well — and the Babylonian Talmud will tell us which one.

This week’s handout:  49 Ki Tetze 5778
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Shoftim 5778

August 14, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of August 12th, 2018

Deut. 18:6      If a Levite would go, from any of the settlements throughout Israel where he has been residing, to the place that the LORD has chosen, he may do so whenever he pleases. 7 He may serve in the name of the LORD his God like all his fellow Levites who are there in attendance before the LORD. 8 They shall receive equal shares of the dues, bwithout regard to personal gifts or patrimonies.b                                                      bMeaning of Heb. uncertain.

What really IS the meaning of that “uncertain Hebrew,” לבד ממכריו על-האבות?  Must we emend the text here, or does it just “mean” what we think without emendation?

This week’s handout:  48 Shoftim 5778Donate:

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Re’eh 5778

August 7, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of August 5th, 2018

Deut. 13:13 If you hear it said, of one of the towns that the LORD your God is giving you to dwell in, 14 that some scoundrels from among you have gone and subverted the inhabitants of their town, saying, “Come let us worship other gods”—whom you have not experienced— 15 you shall investigate and inquire and interrogate thoroughly [ודרשת וחקרת ושאלת היטב] If it is true, the fact is established—that abhorrent thing was perpetrated in your midst— 16 put the inhabitants of that town to the sword and put its cattle to the sword. Doom it and all that is in it to destruction.

What does חקר mean, and why and how should we do it?

This week’s handout:  47 Re’eh 5778


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Ekev 5778

July 31, 2018

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

Deut 7:15  The LORD will ward off from you all sickness; He will not bring upon you any of the dreadful diseases of Egypt [מדוי מצרים], about which you know, but will inflict them upon all your enemies.

What are the “diseases of Egypt,” and what does this promise imply?

This week’s handout:  46 Ekev 5778


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Va-etchanan 5778

July 24, 2018

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

Deut 5:23/26  For what mortal ever heard the voice of the living God [קול אלהים חיים] speak out of the fire, as we did, and lived?

What does it mean to call God “living”?

This week’s handout:  45 Va-etchanan 5778

Read Tzvi Sinensky’s article here.

See the intersection of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai on Google Maps!


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