Torah Pearls #26 – Shemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47)

Torah Pearls Shemini, leviticus, Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, Jono Vandor, Torah portion, strange fire, Aaron, judgment, Yehovah, Be Holy for I am Holy, Torah PearlsIn this week's Original Torah PearlsShemini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47), we discuss the blessing of fire falling from Heaven, the sin of strange fire offered by Aaron’s sons, and the judgement of fire from Yehovah! Also, listen in as Nehemia Gordon eats a grasshopper! And, was Tevye right when he declared in Fiddler on the Roof that in the Good Book, “somewhere there is something about a chicken!” And what about the duck, goose and the swan? Lastly, what does it mean when Peter quotes Leviticus 11:45, “Be Holy for I am Holy” in 1 Peter 1:15? All this and more in this week’s Torah Pearls! Continue reading

Torah Pearls #24 – Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26)

Torah Pearls Vayikra with Nehemia GordonIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26), we share our recommendations of English translations and how to use them responsibly. What is really going when we see Leviticus chapter 5 ending with verse 19 in the gentile translations, while in the Hebrew and Jewish translations it ends with verse 26. We review the five primary types of sacrifices, which correspond to the first five chapters of the book Leviticus. We discuss whether there is atonement and forgiveness without blood. What “to lean his hand” means.  Whether if you sin can you just bring a sacrifice and receive atonement. What fats we are and aren’t we allowed to eat. The difference between intentional and unintentional sin. If one becomes unclean, have they done something which makes them guilty? Are we really expected to ring the neck of the bird? And so much more. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #22 – Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

Torah Pearls Vayakhel, Exodus 35:1-38:20, Torah Pearls, torah portion, Nehemia Gordon, tabernacle, wilderness, Jewish, hebrewIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20), we begin with asking what it means to "kindle a fire" on the Sabbath.  Then we ask what it means for someone's heart to be stirred, and how the various traditions understand this, leading to a wonderful discussion on how and why we give to God. There is a fascinating discussion of the nature of Polygamy in the Torah, which leads to an exciting examination of the nature of Paleo-Hebrew. Continue reading

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

Torah Pearls Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)In this climactic episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27), Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and Nehemia 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 #4 – Vayeira (Genesis 18:1-22:24)

Torah Pearls Vayeira, Genesis 18:1-22:24, abomination, abominations, Abraham, angels, angels messengers, cheeseburger, dead sea, dietary laws, grafted, homosexuality, human sacrifice, Isaac, Ishmael, Ishmaelites, kid, Lot, meat, meat and milk, milk, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, rape, sacrifice, salt sea, seed, Sodom, Torah PearlsIn The Original Torah Pearls, Vayeira (Genesis 18:1-22:24), the trio sheds light on interpreting the words and actions of “messengers” by comparing the three men who visited Abraham with other examples in scripture. They debate which of the many depravities of Sodom left it covered in salt to this day. With information about Abraham’s place and time, Gordon brings understanding to the more baffling events in this portion—particularly Lot’s approach to hospitality. Other Torah pearls include: the significance of Abraham bargaining with the number ten, Ishmael’s “mocking” of Isaac, and word puns that prove the Creator not only has a keen sense of humor but that he’s willing to work with us.  The trio ends by exploring the “blessing” that Abraham bequeathed to the world—the opportunity to be grafted in. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #49 – Ki Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

Torah Pearls Ki Teitzei, Amalekites, bastard, ben sorer, blot out name, civil laws, collateral, cursed, Deuteronomy, divorce, dog, domestic laws, donkey and ox, fidelity, hanged on tree, hanging, harlot, inheritance, Ki Teitzei, levirate marriage, Malachi, mamzer, Methodist, nehemia gordon, parapets, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, plowing, presence of the Lord, presence of Yehovah, prostitute, prostitution, puppy, rape, rebellious son, repossession, rights of firstborn, sexual immorality, shechinah, shekhinah, slavery, sowing, tassels, tenth generation, Torah Pearls, Torah Portion, tzitzit, uncleanness, weaving, women’s rights, wool and linenIn this episode of The Original Torah PearlsKi Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19), an uninformed reading of the archaic civil and domestic laws in this portion might leave one scratching the head, but the trio deftly removes cultural and language barriers so that the principles behind these pearls can be applied to the modern age. Discussions reveal what is at the heart of: Torah fashion statements, plowing with a donkey and an ox, installing parapets and taking millstones. Ki Teitzei underscores that the Torah is for all people, for all time—as its laws not only remedied ancient Canaanite traditions but also reached ahead to 20th century America when women’s rights finally began to get with the program. The portion concludes with the mind-bender of remembering to forget—and a reminder from Gordon that it’s a curse to have one’s name blotted out. 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