Posts Tagged ‘Baruch Schwartz’

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

Learn Biblical Hebrew:

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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Mattot-Masei 5778

July 10, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of July 8th, 2018

Num. 28:7  The libation with it shall be a quarter of a hin for each lamb, to be poured in the sacred precinct as an offering of fermented drink [שכר] to the LORD. 8The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, preparing the same meal offering and libation as in the morning—an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the LORD.

Num. 32:33  Moses assigned to them—to the Gadites, the Reubenites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph—the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites and the kingdom of King Og of Bashan.

Wait a minute … how did the half-tribe of Manasseh get in on this deal?

This week’s handout:  42-43 Mattot-Masei 5778

Read Baruch Schwartz’s essay on


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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


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


Vayikra 5778

March 13, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of March 11th, 2018

If you read the weekly parshiyot separately, some things are hidden from you.  The subject of the 1st verb in Leviticus — ויקרא אל משה — is actually at the end of the book of Exodus.

This week’s handout:  24 Vayikra 5778


Behar-Behukkotai 5777

May 16, 2017

This is Torah Talk for the week of May 14th, 2017

Why does Lev 26:42 list the patriarchs in reverse order?  A symposium.

Bonus:  Rashi explains why the NJPS translation is wrong.

Lev. 26:42 Then will I remember My covenant with Jacob; I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham; and I will remember the land.

This week’s handout:  32-33 Behar-Behukkotai 5777



Emor 5777

May 9, 2017

This is Torah Talk for the week of May 7th, 2017

Lev. 23:42 You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens [אזרח] in Israel shall live in booths.

Rashi: All citizens in Israel. All citizens, and all those in Israel, including converts. [But is Rashi correct?]

This week’s handout:  31 Emor 5777


Aharei Mot-Kedoshim 5777

May 2, 2017

This is Torah Talk for the week of April 30th, 2017

What kind of “self-denial” does the Bible ask us to practice on Yom Kippur?  The real meaning of ve-innitem et nafshoteichem.

Lev. 16:29      And this shall be to you a law for all time: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall practice self-denial [תענו את נפשותיכם]; and you shall do no manner of work, neither the citizen nor the alien who resides among you. 30 For on this day atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you of all your sins; you shall be clean before the Lord. 31 It shall be a sabbath of complete rest for you, and you shall practice self-denial [ועניתם את נפשותיכם]; it is a law for all time.

This week’s handout:  29-30 Aharei Mot-Kedoshim 5777

Baruch Schwartz, “Yom Ha-kippurim: The Biblical Significance” on


Vayikra 5777

March 28, 2017

This is Torah Talk for the week of March 26th, 2017

Why does Lev 2:11 have two different words for “leaven” — and what’s wrong with leaven to begin with?

Lev. 2:11

No meal offering that you offer to the Lord shall be made with leaven [חמץ], for no leaven [שאר] or honey may be turned into smoke as an offering by fire to the Lord.

Nahmanides:  … Or perhaps there is some mystery in all of this that escapes us.

This week’s handout:  24 Vayikra 5777