Posts Tagged ‘Nahmanides’

Lech Lecha 5779

October 16, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of October 14th, 2018

Gen. 12:2

I will make of you a great nation,

And I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

And you shall be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you

And curse him that curses you;

And all the families of the earth

Shall bless themselves by you.”

What is Gen 12:3 really saying — and what is the bigger issue? 

This week’s handout:  03 Lech Lecha 5779
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Bereshit 5779

October 2, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of September 30th, 2018

Gen. 1:1

  When God began to createa heaven and earth— 2 the earth being תֹ֨הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind fromb God sweeping over the water— 3 God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day.c

What does תֹ֨הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ mean? 

NJPS:              unformed and void

KJV:                without form, and void

NRSV:             a formless void

LXX:              ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος  [“invisible and not properly prepared”]

Everett Fox:    wild and waste

Jack Sasson:    “Hodgepodge” [“Time … to Begin,” in Sha’arei Talmon,188]

This week’s handout:  01 Bereshit 5779
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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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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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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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Hukkat 5778

June 19, 2018

This is Torah Talk for the week of June 17th, 2018

Num. 21:27-30 is a poem in praise of an Amorite king, Sihon — whom Israel has just conquered!  What is this poem doing in the Bible?

This week’s handout: 39 Hukkat 5778

Click here to read Liz Bloch-Smith’s article “When Did ‘Fire Go Forth from Heshbon’?”