Gathering Sources: Shoftim

Some resources for exploring the Torah portion Shoftim, Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9. (Sometimes spelled Shof’tim or Shofetim.) Next read in the Diaspora beginning with minchah on August 31, through Shabbat September 7.

This is part of a series of weekly “gathering sources” posts, collecting previous material on the weekly Torah portion, most originally part of a 2010 series called “Opening the Book”:

Something to Notice: You must not go back that way
A Path to Follow: Wanton Destruction
Great Source(s): Duties of the Heart
Language and Translation: Whole-Hearted

See also:

Justice: God’s Promise or Ours? (Shoftim Prayer Links)

Gathering Sources: Re’eh

Some resources for exploring the Torah portion Re’eh, Deut 11:26-16:17– (Wikipedia says this is also spelled: Reeh, R’eih, or Ree). This is part of a series of weekly “gathering sources” posts, collecting previous material on the weekly Torah portion, most originally part of a 2010 series called “Opening the Book.” Re’eh is next read in the Diaspora beginning with minchah, August 24 and continuing through Shabbat August 31.

Something to Notice: Protecting Us from Ourselves
A Path to Follow: The Three Weeks and the Seven
Language and Translation: Knowing
Great Source(s): Walking behind the Presence

See also: Awaiting the Harvests: Prayer Links for Re’eh
Learning to See — Opportunity Maps (August 20, 2017)

Devarim and Eichah

Here are some background materials relating to the Torah portion Devarim, the Grateful Dead, and Shabbat Hazon. Also included are a selection from Marge Piercy’s “Nishmat” and an excerpt from Fanny Neuda’s Hours of Devotion to be included in the Shabbat morning service, August 10 at Temple Micah. Handout for August 10.

Here are the full articles excerpted in the handout:

“What the Grateful Dead Can Teach Us About Tisha B’av” (Times of Israel June 2017) by Rabbi Simeon Cohen
“Tuning In Together” by Granville Ganter (1999 article)

Also attached are some notes and quotes from Yoram Hazony’s book, The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture (Cambridge University Press, 2012) from the chapter, “Truth and Being in the Hebrew Bible.” He discusses a number of verses from the book of Devarim, several from the opening portion, in the process of outlining his ideas about words, objects and dualism (or, he argues, lack thereof) in the Tanakh. I prepared this PDF for discussion of this Torah portion but then decided to talk about something entirely different this week. Perhaps eventually I’ll write up the notes for the drash I decided not to give; meanwhile, here’s the PDF: “Davar and Devarim: What is a davar and when is it true or false?

Gathering Sources: Bamidbar

Thoughts and resources for exploring the Torah portion, Bamidbar — sometimes: Bemidbar or B’midbar — Numbers 1:1-4:20. This is part of a series of weekly “gathering sources” posts, collecting previous material on the weekly Torah portion, most originally part of a 2010 series called “Opening the Book”:

A Path to Follow: From One Month

Something to Notice: God Grieves

Great Source: The Biography of Ancient Israel

See also: Bamidbar: Prayer Links

Note to those trying to follow the Gathering Sources series: Postings lagged following Shavuot. Sorry. Catching up.

Dedication of THIS House

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mezuzah
Spending extra time with Psalm 30 over these last few weeks, inspires me to suggest that I want my house to reflect many of its sentiments.

Regardless of which house was originally meant by the psalmist or how the words were used and understood over the centuries, this, is my prayer, today:

Thank you, God, for lifting me out of depths of my own making,
for helping me over self-criticism and abdication of dreams,
for keeping me from adopting an enemy’s eye view of my life.

This house has seen some tranquility
and it’s seen days that seemed too much like the pit.
We’re grateful to have reached this point,
and ask Your help through the future ups and downs.

With Your help, let this house be
a place that hears crying,
welcoming expressions of truth from those who suffer,
a place of healing, working through the struggle,
and a place of joy.

This house, built and maintained by humans,
can seem pretty shaky,
but if it’s a place where the Name is recognized,
in all the varied ways God comes through the door,
maybe that mountain of strength won’t seem so far off.
— V. Spatz, 2018, based on Psalm 30
copy left (copy left: share with attribution)

I stress that this is my prayer, today, because, while this isn’t exactly a first draft, it doesn’t yet entirely capturing what I meant to say.

9 of 30 on Psalm 30
As a National Novel Writing Month Rebel, I write each day of November while not aiming to produce a novel. This year I focus on Psalm 30 (“Thirty on Psalm 30”) in the hope that its powerful language will help us through these days of turmoil and toward something new, stronger and more joyful, as individuals and as community. Whole series (so far)

…For anyone wondering: I am writing each day in November but not necessarily posting every day. Sorry if this is confusing anyone and hope days with multiple posts, as the blog catches up with my notes, are not too annoying.

Babylon Background

Basic Background

Babylon’s Ever-Shifting Past

Scholarship is always changing the past.

Ur and Har(r)an in Bible and History

Narratives of Genesis are tied up with historical places that carried specific meanings we will miss without some background on those ancient places.


 

Books Cited

Babylon by Kriwaczek

Paul Kriwaczek. Babylon: Mesopotamia and the Birth of Civilization (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2010)

Everyday Life

Contenau, Georges. Everyday Life in Babylon and Assyria (NY: The Norton Library, 1966).

Babylon Complex

Babylon is a surprisingly multivalent symbol in U.S. culture and politics. Erin Runions devotes 300 pages to unpacking…

Israel in Exile (Albertz)

Oft-cited “biblical, historical, literary, and theological masterpiece” exploring the Babylonian Captivity through bible and history.

Song of Exile

Stowe explores Psalm 137 in three parts: History (“…there we sat and wept…”), Memory (“If I forget thee, Jerusalem…”), and Forgetting (“O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed…”) with a strong emphasis on the psalm in music and popular culture.

Israel’s Resistance Poetry

“Israel’s earliest responses to earth-shaking changes were cast in the powerfully expressive language of poetry…”

Belshazzar and the Wall

“Mene, Mene, Tekel” Harold Rome (1908 – 1993), from 25th Anniversary “Pins and Needles” (1962) Zimmers, Tighe E. Lyrical Satirical Harold Rome. Jefferson, NY (McFarlandContinue Reading

The Hebrew Bible (Greenspan)

The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship. Jewish Studies in the Twenty-First Century. Greenspan, Frederick E., ed. (NY: NYU Press, 2008) “There has been aContinue Reading

Tanakh: An Owner’s Manual

Tanakh: An Owner’s Manual: Authorship, Canonization, Masoretic Text, Exegesis, Modern Scholarship, and Pedagogy. Moshe Sokolow. (NY: Ktav, 2015). Moshe Sokolow, a professor at Yeshiva University,Continue Reading

Diaspora Model and Black Theology

In 1973, Charles Shelby Rooks floated the “untested suggestion about a possible new image” for Black Theology: that of an African Diaspora based on theContinue Reading


 

Related Music

Belshazzar and the Wall

“Mene, Mene, Tekel” Harold Rome (1908 – 1993), from 25th Anniversary “Pins and Needles” (1962) Zimmers, Tighe E. Lyrical Satirical Harold Rome. Jefferson, NY (McFarlandContinue Reading

Zion Songs

Some Songs of Zion and Babylon The Abyssinians “Forward Unto Zion” Bob Marley “Zion Train” Don McLean “Waters of Babylon” The Melodians “Rivers of Babylon”Continue Reading

More Resources

Oriental Institute

Oriental Institute sponsors excavations and surveys, operates a museum, publishes many resources, and shares materials on-line.

Bible Readers’ Inventories

Many factors influence how we read any document, including — perhaps, especially — the Bible. Spending some time exploring factors that influence our own readingContinue Reading

 

Heart Map Background

Jill K. Berry says the heart map project in her Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking was inspired by cordiform maps of the 16th Century and later. (See “Covenant and Liturgy” as well as subsequent posts.)

a tiny bit of background —
In most common maps meridians, lines of longitude, are straight. When meridians are curved, instead, the result is a “cordiform,” or heart-shaped, map. (Read more on pseudoconic projections here.)

Geo Lounge notes that such maps were used in the Renaissance era, and that this was “closely tied to the concept of inner emotions affecting the physical world.” (Citation: Jerry Brotton. A history of the world in twelve maps. New York: Viking, 2013)

Here’s a lovely contemporary example, shared with Creative Commons license:

512px-werner_projection_sw

World Werner Projection. Daniel R. Strebe     CC BY-SA 3.0

“The world on Werner projection. 15° graticule. Imagery is a derivative of NASA’s Blue Marble summer month composite with oceans lightened to enhance legibility and contrast. Image created with the Geocart map projection software.”

Look for more on heart maps as “type your heart out” month continues.

NaBloPoMo NOTE: “A Song Every Day” signed up for National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to daily posting for the month of November. Circumstances intervened on some dates. This post is hereby declared, by way of catching up, the official post of November 6.