Prophet Pearls #47 – Re’eh Bonus (Isaiah 66:1-24)

Isaiah 66:14 etched into the Western Wall. Photo by Nehemia GordonThis bonus episode of Prophet Pearls looks at Isaiah 66:1-24, which is read in synagogues around the world whenever the weekly Sabbath coincides with Rosh Chodesh (New Moon Day). Join Nehemia Gordon and Yoel Halevy of Hebrew in Israel, for a riveting discussion about what Isaiah has to say concerning Resurrection of the Dead, God's role as our Heavenly Mother, and eternal Hell-fire. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #47 – Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17)

In this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Re'eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17), we focus on Moses’ command to “see”—to clearly understand that life gives us only two choices—to create a god from our own hearts or to obey and worship the true God—His place, His time, His way.  The trio explores the following questions: Where did God choose to place his name and can a GPS get you there? What’s the biblical way to dispose of an idol? What does it mean to be without the yoke of the Torah and does the New Testament refer to this malady? What’s an “evil eye”? Why were Jews in the Middle Ages forced to choose between begging and banking?  Who are the sons of Yehovah? Do some translations attempt to make bacon kosher? What’s at the heart of the issue of boiling a kid in its mother’s milk? What’s so dangerous about high mountains and green trees? Ten times three equals thirty... right? Is night time the right time for a Passover sacrifice? In addition to many other insights into the original Hebrew language and context, Gordon provides an example of the meticulousness of the scribes who preserved for us an imaginary bird that we couldn't eat even if we tried. Can one worship the true God without adhering to His commandments? What of the altars other than the altar? Who exactly were the corrupt men of “beliya’al”? Where is the son of God mentioned in the Old Testament? What kind of birds are the Ra’ah & the Da’ah? How can we possibly understand the deep & complex riddle, “Do not boil a kid in it’s mother’s milk”? Are there three tithes or only one? When did the Israelites leave Egypt, by day or by night? Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #46 – Eikev (Isaiah 49:14-51:3)

Prophet Pearls, comfort zion, eikev, eikev haftarah, eikev prophets portion, ekev, ekev haftarah, gather kibbutz, god as mother, haftarah, hebrew gender rules, hebrew grammar, Ingathering, isaiah, Isaiah 49:14-51:3, jeremiah, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophet Pearls, prophets, Torah PortionIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Eikev covering Isaiah 49:14-51:3. The gender rules of Hebrew grammar are explored in this portion as well as Isaiah’s (and Moses’) metaphorical references to God as a mother. We learn that the suffering servant’s message is one of great hope—that we can fully trust and lean on God. In addition to grammar goodies, word studies include “gather/kibbutz”—as we see nations gathering in the Land—fulfilling God’s word to Isaiah. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #46 – Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)

Torah Pearls - Eikev, 40 days, 40 nights, abominations, arrogance, awesome, bees, Birkat HaMazon, blessing, blot out, Circumcised heart, collective blessing, cows, curse, cursed thing, eikev, fasting, first person, God of gods, gods, golden calf, grace, grace after a meal, hornet, idolatry, Jesus quotes Torah, Karaism, karaite, Karaites, land flowing with milk and honey, meal, Moses intervened for Aaron, name, on the heels of, plagues, Prophecy, search scriptures, seven species, staple crops of Israel, tablets, tablets of stone, Ten Commandments, Tetragrammaton, Torah, Torah Pearls, walking the landIn this episode of The Original Torah PearlsEikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25), using language, history, context and common sense, Nehemia Gordon provides insight into Hebrew slang as well as certain words from the portion, including “because,” “disease,”  and “hornet.” The question of when to say grace leads the trio to discuss the powerful implications of lifelong learning—“little by little.” Johnson relates how Jesus’ intimacy with the books of Moses draws him to the Torah. The trio answers: What Hebrew word describes both “God” and “desert?” Does God set time limits on wickedness? What things are abominable? What is the danger of arrogance? Who hewed? And who wrote? Gordon discusses the irony that scripture and Jewish tradition consider the blotting out of a name to be a curse. And in contrast to the practice of only using the Tetragrammaton, Gordon reads Deuteronomy 10:17 in Hebrew to reveal the alliterative beauty of the verse and the power unleashed when the great, mighty and awesome name is spoken. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #45 – Va’etchanan (Isaiah 40:1-26)

In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Va'etchanan covering Isaiah 40:1-26. ”Nachamu, nachamu, / Comfort, comfort ye my people” begins this portion as well as the theme of Haftarah readings for the next seven weeks. Gordon explains the history and symbolism for these “Haftarot of consolation” and why they are read from Tish’ah b’Av (the ninth of Av) until Rosh Hashanah.  We also learn the remarkable story of Herbert Samuel—whose reading of this portion at the Hurva Synagogue in 1920 was seen as the official pronouncement of the end of the third exile. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #45 – Va’etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)

This episode of The Original Torah PearlsVa'etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11), is perhaps the crown jewel of Torah portions. It contains the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4. But what do the Hebrew words “Shema” and “Echad” mean and why is this single verse so important? Also in this program: Is Jesus/ Yeshua a victim of character assassination? What are the Noahide laws? Was the covenant made with us or our fathers? What is the 1st commandment? Continue reading