Torah Pearls #14 – Vaeira (Exodus 6:2-9:35)

Torah Pearls Vaeira, Exodus 6:2-9:35, Egypt, Exodus, Jono Vandor, Keith Johnson, migdal-oz, mixed multitude, month of aviv, Moses, Name of God, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Pharaoh, plague, plagues, Tetragrammaton, Torah Pearls, Torah Portion, vaeira, YehovahThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Vaeira (Exodus 6:2-9:35). At face value, the first sentence of Vaeira appears to contradict other Scripture but several common-sense explanations clear things up. We learn why Moses’ lineage was important—particularly to the original audience—and that his “why me?” attitude was a sign of greatness. Gordon reveals a key verse for understanding the month of Aviv and the significance of its place on the Hebrew calendar. He also reads a poetic passage from the Portion that contains God’s name and where the rhyme of the divine is evident. As the trio examines each plague, Gordon translates the three Hebrew words for what was done to Pharaoh’s heart. Johnson speculates if the livestock taken to a place of shelter—a “migdal-oz”—hints at the mixed multitude and wonders if any Egyptians took shelter in the wondrous redemption to be found in Goshen. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #13 – Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)

Torah Pearls Shemot, Exodus 1:1-6:1, burning, burning bush, bush, Egypt, Exodus, Moses, moshe, Nile, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Pharaoh, shemati, slavery, Tetragrammaton, Torah PearlsThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1). From the supposedly “well-known” stories in this portion, Gordon and Johnson clear away centuries of clutter left by mistranslations, Halacha, and Cecil B. DeMille’s version of events. In the spotlight is the burning bush scene where very clearly God revealed his one and only name to Moses. With instructions for present and future use, he left no room for misunderstanding. Gordon and Johnson explain how we got so messed up and what to do about it. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #12 – Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

Torah Pearls Vayechi, Genesis 47:28-50:26, biblical poetry, blessing, blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, blessing Jacob’s sons, blessing twelve tribes, blessings, Double portion, Ephraim, Hebrew poetry, Jacob, Manasseh, Menasheh, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Shechem, Shiloh, swear by God’s name, Torah Pearls, Torah Portion, vayechiThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26). In the final Genesis portion, Gordon provides the cultural and geographical significance of the blessings to the 12 tribes. We learn the special inheritance given to the Levites, why their descendants are still traceable, why Reuben’s portion went to Joseph’s sons, and the significance of the “right hand.” From Jacob’s insistence that Joseph “swear” to him, we learn that the patriarchs knew God’s name and how to use it. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #11 – Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Torah Pearls Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)This episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27). In this climactic Portion in which Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, Gordon critically examines the Midrashic explanation for Jacob’s spirit reviving upon seeing the wagons Joseph sent for him. Does this benign example of Talmudic gymnastics portend other dangers of not being rooted solely in the word of God? The trio debate why Jacob described his 130 years on earth as “few and evil” and parse the following words and phrases: “the one you sold,” “made a father to Pharaoh,” “seventy,” “shepherds,” “silver” and “servants.” In closing, the trio rejoice that their disparate paths led to common ground and a place to witness the worldwide revival of people waking up to the truth and joining themselves to the preserved remnant. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #7 – Vayeitzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3)

Torah Pearls Vayeitzei, Genesis 28:10-32:3, Bethel, dream, dreams, Jacob’s ladder, mandrakes, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, stone of scone, Torah Pearls, Torah Portion, vayeitzeiThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Vayeitzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3). Everything old is new again in Vayeitzei as Gordon and crew release the vacuum-seal and allow the fresh air of language, history and context to inform Jacob’s time in Haran. Jacob’s servitude to his trickster father-in-law smells sadly familiar even in English, but the echoes of reciprocal justice appear most poignant in Hebrew. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #6 – Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9)

Torah Pearls Toldot, Genesis 25:19-28:9, Issac’s wells, jacob and esau, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, satan in tanakh, toldot, Torah PearlsThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9). God’s desire and ability to establish a universal and eternal plan within three generations of a mere human family comes to the forefront in Toldot. Discussions include: Are three related nations depicted among these generations? What is the symbolic significance of Isaac’s wells? Word studies include: “red,” “heel,” “trembled,” and how the KJV back-tracked to render a personified view of “satan.” We see familial patterns continue as Isaac echoes, “she’s my sister,” and Rebecca steps away from the daily grind to “seek Yehovah.”  The trio explores Jacob and Esau’s differences—a shepherd with a plan and a hunter in the moment—as well as the defining difference that altered their destinies. As Jacob sets off with the double portion, God’s mixed-multitude plan is set in motion—a plan to bring his covenant to all mankind. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #5 – Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

Torah Pearls Chayei Sarah, Genesis 23:1-25:18, Chevron, Hebron, Hevron, hospitality, Machpelah, matchmaker, Mearat, Midian, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, patriarchs, sarah’s tomb, Tomb, Torah Pearls, Torah PortionThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18). Love, romance, marriage, death, laden camels, and the power of specific prayers—Chayei Sarah unfolds dramatically as the trio examine its many pearls. The portion begins with Abraham securing a burial place for Sarah and ends with his death. In between, we get to relive one of the world’s best stories, not once, but four times, as Abraham’s servant makes a match for Isaac. But far from stale repetition, Gordon explains that being able to analyze word choices in a repeated story is pay dirt for the linguist. Continue reading