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

Original Torah Pearls - Ha'azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52)This episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of 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. 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

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 linenThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Ki 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 #39 – Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

Image of red heifer for Torah Pearls Chukat.In this episode of the The Original Torah Pearls, Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1), we discuss, is there a red heifer in Israel? What is the water of menstruation for cleansing? Does a corrupt priesthood invalidate the water of purification and are we cut off without it? Is the site of the Temple off limits today? What exactly did Moses do wrong when Yehovah brought water from the rock? How did the snake on the pole cross the line into idolatry? Continue reading

Torah Pearls #37 – Shlach (Numbers 13:1-15:41)

atonement, caleb, forgiveness, fringes, hosea, hoshea, jesus, joshua, meraglim, religious police, slang, spies, torah pearls, tzitzit, yehoshua, yeshua, torah pearls shlach, numbers, nehemia gordon, torah portion, hebrew slang, torah, sinThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Shlach (Numbers 13:1-15:41). In this Torah Portion we discuss what does the name Hoshea mean? Is there Hebrew slang in the Torah? What is God’s perspective of forgiveness? Caleb and Jesus went into the land? What does it mean to sin with an uplifted hand? Also, beware of the tzitzit police! Continue reading

Torah Pearls #33 – Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34)

This episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34). In this week’s Torah Pearls we discuss the ifs and buts of blessings and curses, as well as the meaning and gravity of vows and dedications. Lastly, how does one redeem their tithe? Continue reading

Torah Pearls #31 – Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23)

Torah Pearls Emor, Nehemia Gordon, Torah portion, Leviticus, Priests, offerings, appointed times, Yehovah, Lunar Sabbath, chagThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23). We discuss the standards and conduct of the Priests and acceptable offerings, as well as the appointed times of Yehovah and the issue of the Lunar Sabbath. Lastly, we address the stoning of the blasphemer! Continue reading

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 Pearls, we discuss the Torah portion of Shemini covering Leviticus 9:1-11:47. 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, Leviticus 1:1-5:26, bull, burnt, dove, goat, offering, pidgeon, sacrifice, sacrifices, sheep, sin-offering, sino ffering, bloodIn 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. Let me know in the comments what your favorite pearls in this Torah portion are. 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, hebrewThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20). We begin with asking what it means to "kindle a fire" on the Sabbath.  Then they 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