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

Prophet Pearls #8 – Vayishlach (Obadiah 1:1-21)

The Edomite City of Petra, Prophet Pearls Vayishlach, Obadiah, day of the lord, edom, edomites, haftarah, Keith Johnson, measure for measure, mount zion, negev, nehemia gordon, obadiah, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, petra, Temple Mount, Tetragrammaton, Vayishlach, yom YehovahThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayishlach, covering Obadiah 1:1-21. To the single-chapter vision of Obadiah, Gordon and Johnson bring volumes of insight. We learn how the eschatological views of preterism, historicism and futurism apply to this Portion. We also learn that Obadiah’s identity has been determined by a rabbinical method of interpretation known as “make-it-up.”  Word studies include:  “hamas,” “Sepharad,”  “yom Yehovah,” “Edom,” “measure for measure,” and “drinking from the cup.” While we are warned by the sins of Edom, we are encouraged by Gordon’s eye-witness account of prophecy fulfilled in the Negev. And we look forward to the day when saviors ascend Mount Zion and the kingdom is Yehovah’s. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #6 – Toldot (Malachi 1:1-2:7)

Prophet Pearls Toldot, Malachi, toldot, altarpiece, angel, messenger, haftarah, Keith Johnson, Kohen, Name of God, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, Priests, prophets, Temple Mount, Tetragrammaton, YehovahThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Toldot, covering Malachi 1:1-2:7. If context is key, Gordon and Johnson have opened the door. We learn the exact historical context of Malachi’s message, a specific event at Sinai to which he referred, and the current events on the Temple Mount that prove the Prophet’s words to be as relevant as ever. Gordon tracks down a lost root to clarify the job description of a “messenger” and sets the record straight on “Levites,” “priests” and “cohanim.”  Regarding Malachi’s prophecy, “my name is great among the nations,” Gordon tells of Icelanders and Filipinos who have gathered themselves with Yehovah and encourages listeners to be ready to do likewise. Continue reading

Hebrew Voices #27 – True Jew Singing (Rebroadcast)

True Jew Singing, Yitzchok Meir, Nehemia Gordon, Hebrew Voices, Jewish Unity Project, Rabbi Schlomo Carlebach, zionism, Shema, Tetragrammaton, Cantor Yitzchok Meir, halakhaIn this episode of Hebrew Voices - True Jew Singing - Nehemia Gordon visits the Judean Hills, home of Yitzchok Meir. Musician, artist, and cantor—Meir is also the founder of the Jewish Unity Project. When asked to explain how he combines music with a message to unify people, Meir answers eloquently with his version of a song by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach about little candles—the candles of one God. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #3 – Lech Lecha (Isaiah 40:27-41:16)

Lech lecha (Isaiah 40:27-41:16)This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Lech Lecha, covering Isaiah 40:27-41:16. As Isaiah spoke consolation to invaded Israel, Gordon and Johnson console the listener with the deep wells contained in the original Hebrew—nuances that bring even greater comfort from the promises of the Creator. Word studies include: “renewed” strength, “first and last,” “righteousness,” and “eternity”—with the significance of its second root. Gordon and Johnson consider the options concerning “who stirred up from the east” and discuss how the ancient Israelites knew who was speaking in this Portion’s fast-paced dialog. Gordon concludes with the comforting news implied by the winnowing process—not all nations will be carried away. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #2 – Noach (Isaiah 54:1-55:5)

Prophet Pearls Noach, Isaiah 54:1-55:5, davidic covenant, Yehovah, Yehovah of hosts, hebrew root words, Hebrew roots, isaiah, Keith Johnson, lord of hosts, messianic promise, nehemia gordon, noach, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophet Pearls, root words, seed of davidThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Noach covering Isaiah 54:1-55:5. Gordon and Johnson revel in the glorious promises to Israel and explore the various ways the Tanakh allegorizes her: as a barren and abandoned woman, a maidservant, a slave, an owned animal, and yet, wholly and eternally a beloved wife. Original language brings insight to the following words: “foaming” anger, Yehovah of “hosts,” mercy, kibbutz, and “brief” moment. Despite differing views on some issues, Gordon and Johnson stand firmly on common ground concerning the messianic promise as Yehovah connects his eternal covenant with Israel to the seed of David. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #1 – Bereshit (Isaiah 42:5-43:10)

Prophet Pearls Bereshit (Isaiah 42:5-43:10)This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Bereshit covering Isaiah 42:5-43:10. After a quick tutorial on the origin of the Haftarah, we learn that the Prophets aren't the golden oldies; their writings are as relevant as ever and more current than our news feeds. Gordon and Johnson explore the original context in which this portion was written, followed by the context in 168 BCE when this passage was first read aloud in the synagogue, and finally the context in September 2014 when Netanyahu spoke the holy words of Isaiah to the United Nations. In addition to parsing key words from the portion, Gordon and Johnson answer the following: What service did the Jews provide to the ancient Roman Empire? And since the Creator refers to himself in so many wonderful ways, would he really name himself, “Lord”? In closing, Gordon and Johnson remind us that while God’s one and only name may have been lost for generations, he did not lose ours—he calls every one of his covenant people by name. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #50 – Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)

Ki Tavo - Joshua's Altar Mount EvalThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8). After revealing the identity of the “wandering Aramean,” we discuss the name commanded to be spoken seven times during the first fruits offering. A vivid picture is painted of the tribes standing on Mounts Ebal and Gerizim declaring the blessings and the curses across the bowl-shaped valley. But why are the curses so complicated and the blessings so simple?  Gordon lets us in on marginal notes that direct how some of the more graphic phrases in the Torah are to be read in public. He also proposes an explanation for the statistically insignificant Jew becoming a byword among the nations. Could the exile and its miseries be as much of a sign as the miraculous ingathering? And while our heavenly Father many times commands the whole hearts and souls of his people, to what one cause does he pledge his? 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 landThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Eikev covering Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25. Using language, history, context and common sense, 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