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
This episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26). In the final Genesis portion, Gordon provides the cultural and geographical significance of the blessings to the 12 tribes. We learn the special inheritance given to the Levites, why their descendants are still traceable, why Reuben’s portion went to Joseph’s sons, and the significance of the “right hand.” From Jacob’s insistence that Joseph “swear” to him, we learn that the patriarchs knew God’s name and how to use it. Continue reading
In this episode of the The Original Torah Pearls, Matot (Numbers 30:2-32:42), we discuss what is the Torah involving vows and does it differ between man and woman? Why didn’t Balaam the son of Beor die according to his request in Numbers 23:10? What is the relationship between the Midianites and Israel? How can we reconcile Numbers 31:15-18 and Ezra 10:18-19?
This week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Chukat covering Judges 11:1-33. Gordon and Johnson draw parallels between events in this portion and current diplomatic strategies over the land of Israel. For a clearer understanding of Jephthah, the exiled son of a prostitute who brings deliverance to Israel, Gordon provides a summary of the history, religions, and geography of the Ammonites and Moabites. This portion provides an example of properly translating “malach”—where only context determines if it’s “angel” or “messenger.” Gordon and Johnson point out the striking word play found with the word-of-the-week yihyeh “he will be” (yud-hei-yud-hei). Gordon reads from Deuteronomy concerning the seriousness of vowing to Yehovah and provides rabbinical interpretations of Jephthah’s tragic vow.
Gordon closes by offering Jephthah as a good example of how to talk to pagans—by finding common ground and speaking with empathy. He also notes the power and peace that can be found during conflicts by praying Jephthah’s closing words to the king of the Ammonites, “The Lord, the Judge, decide this day between [us].”