My U-Haul Sukkot

Gordon Family U-Haul Sukkah 1976.One of my earliest childhood memories was Sukkot of 1976, when I was 3.5 years old. I remember sitting in the family Sukkah, looking up through the branches that formed the roof, at the clouds as they whisked across the sky. We lived in a 17-story condominium and there was no obvious place to build a Sukkah. My father (of blessed memory), an Orthodox rabbi, asked permission to build a Sukkah in his designated parking space. When his request was turned down by the condominium board, my mother came up with the idea of building our Sukkah on the back of a U-Haul trailer. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #54 – Vezot Haberachah (Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12)

Torah Pearls Vezot Haberachah, Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12, Benjamin, blessing, twelve tribes, burning bush, Moses, Deuteronomy, Eretz Yisrael, Har Nevo, Israel, Jordan, Karaism, Karaites, Leningrad Codex, Martin Luther King, Mount Nebo, Mt. Horeb, Mt. Nebo, Mt. Sinai, myriads of holy ones, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, priestly benediction, Priestly Blessing, Promised Land, pseudepigrapha, replacement theology, Thummin and Urim, Torah Pearls, Torah Portion, Transjordan, Vezot Haberachah, YisraelThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Vezot Haberachah (Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12). The trio connects viscerally with this emotional portion that begins with Moses’ farewell blessings to the 12 Tribes and ends with his death. The poetic, the strange, the rare and the wonderful are all here—clarified by Hebrew linguistics, geography, margin notes and a tense you probably didn’t learn in grammar class—the prophetic past. Add to the mix: Thummim and Urim, MLK’s final speech, a little pseudepigrapha, and you’ve barely scratched the surface. This final Torah Pearl ends fittingly with the bestowal of the majestic Priestly blessing and a joyful blast from the shofar. Continue reading

Hebrew Voices #78 – Chinese Origin of the Sukkot Etrog

In this episode of Hebrew Voices, Chinese Origin of the Sukkot Etrog, Nehemia Gordon talks with ordained-rabbi Dr. David Moster about the "fruit" we are commanded to use on the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:40). They discuss how the Citron or "Esrog" arrived in the Land of Israel in the Persian Period, how it played an important role in the rise of the Pharisees, and how it eventually became the distinctive symbol of Judaism - replacing God's holy name. Their conversation explores the Orthodox, Samaritan, and Karaite interpretations of Lev 23:40, its function in the Feast of Booths, and why a southeast Asian-Jewish fruit is a key ingredient in traditional Christmas cakes. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #53 – Ha’azinu (2 Samuel 22:1-51)

Prophet Pearls - Ha'azinu (2 Samuel 22:1-51)In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Haazinu, which covers 2 Samuel 22:1-51. As Gordon and Johnson compare this portion to its parallel in Psalm 18, we learn more about the contexts of these living, breathing prayers and prophecies and the families of Levites who read and sang them in the Temple and in synagogues. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #53 – Ha’azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)

Original Torah Pearls - Ha'azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)In this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Ha’azinu (Deuteronomy 32), the song of Moses provides a lyrical backdrop for discussing the beauty and message of Moses’ last words to the people. Nehemia Gordon explains poetic structure and rhythm as well as how poetic names are formed in Hebrew. The trio explores the repeated references to the “rock” in this song and clarifies who “they” refers to—Israel or the nations. Johnson expounds on the beauty inherit in the Tanach for Christians—with no retrofits needed—while Gordon highlights the passage equating “calling out the name of Yehovah” with “giving greatness” to the Name. The trio concludes with all the conviction of Moses—that there simply are not any other gods out there. Continue reading

Hope from Despair on Yom Kippur

Centurion on Booster Overlooking the Valley of TearsIn this Support Team StudyHope from Despair on Yom Kippur, Nehemia Gordon explains how modern Israel nearly came to an end, how the hand of God turned imminent defeat into victory, and how the hope of a little-known Hebrew "saint" burns in the heart of every Jew for the coming of the King Messiah. In this episode, Nehemia also tells about the most controversial prayer he has uttered in his life! Continue reading

Hebrew Voices #2 – The Origin of Sin (Rebroadcast)

In this episode of Hebrew Voices, Nehemia Gordon discusses with Dr. Miryam Brand the origin of sin and her book, Evil Within and Without: The Source of Sin and Its Nature as Portrayed in Second Temple Literature. Gordon keeps the gems accessible to non-scholars as they track revelations about the origin of sin through the centuries. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #52 – Vayelech (Isaiah 55:6-56:8)

Prophet Pearls Vayelech, everlasting name, everlasting name not cut off, foreigners israel, isaiah, Isaiah 55:6-56:8, jewish soul, joined to israel, Keith Johnson, lavah joined, nehemia gordon, outcasts of israel, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophecy, Prophet Pearls, prophets, Vayelech, Vayelech haftarah, vayelech prophets, yad vashemIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayelech, covering Isaiah 55:6-56:8. Gordon and Johnson rejoice in this portion that heralds good news for the wicked, the unrighteous, the outcasts of Israel, the eunuch and the foreigner. And if none of these describe you, feel free to check “other.” Continue reading