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

The Yom Kippur Jazz Singer

Scene from the movie The Jazz Singer (1972).One Yom Kippur I watched a great movie, the original 1927 film The Jazz Singer. This was the first "talkie," containing several scenes with sound, although most of it was still silent. The second “talking” scene in the movie - actually, the second non-silent scene in movie history - features a Jewish cantor singing Kol Nidre, a famous Yom Kippur prayer in Aramaic. This alone makes the movie worth watching. Just imagine an American audience in 1927. The first time they see a "talking" movie. And it’s a Rabbi singing a Jewish prayer in Aramaic! Continue reading