Vayakhel: Language and Translation

Moses said to the Children of Israel, “See, HASHEM has proclaimed by name, Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. He filled him with Godly spirit, with wisdom, insight, and knowledge, and with every craft…”
Shemot/Exodus 35:30-31

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Mikeitz: A Path to Follow

A man should await the fulfillment of a good dream for as much as twenty-two years. Whence do we know this? From Joseph. For it is written: These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph being seventeen years old, etc., [Daniel 2], and it is further written, And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh [Genesis 41:46]. How many years is it from seventeen to thirty? Thirteen. Add the seven years of plenty and two of famine [after which Joseph saw his brothers], and you have twenty-two….

R. Huna b. Ammi said in the name of R. Pedath who had it from R. Jochanan: If one has a dream which makes him sad he should go and have it interpreted in the presence of three. He should have it interpreted! Has not R. Hisda said: A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read? Say rather then, he should have a good turn given to in the presence of three. Let him bring three and say to them: I have seen a good dream; and they should say to him, Good it is and good may it be. May the All-Merciful turn it to good; seven times may it be decreed from heave that it should be good and it may be good. They should say three verses…

This text — from Babylonian Talmud, Berakoth 55b — goes on to specify verses to be recited in this circumstance: three including the word “turn,” three including the word “redeem” and three including the word “peace.” This discussion of good and bad dreams, and how to handle them, is quite extensive.

To follow a path on dreams and their interpretations in Judaism, here are a few sources: Continue reading Mikeitz: A Path to Follow

Ki Teitzei: A Path to Follow

If, along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs and the mother sitting over the fledglings or the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young. Let the motehr go, and take only the young, in order that you may fare well and have a long life. — Devarim/Deuteronomy 22:6-7 (JPS)

Plaut notes that this commandment is associated with a story concerning Acher [“the other one”], apostate rabbi Elisha ben Abuya (2nd Century CE). Below is the story, taken from Talmud tractate Kiddushin:

What did Aher see that made him go wrong? It is said that once, while sitting and studying in the valley of Gennesar, he saw a man climb to the top of a palm tree on the Sabbath, take the mother bird with the young, and descend in safety. At the end of the Sabbath, he saw another man climb to the top of the same palm tree and take the young, but let the mother go free; as he descended, a snake bit him and he died. Elisha exclaimed: It is written, “Let the mother go and take only the young, that you may fare well and have a long life” (Deut. 22:7). Where is the well-being of this man, and where is the prolonging of his life? (He was unaware how R. Akiva had explained it, namely, “that you may fare well,” in the world [to come], which is wholly good; “and have a long life” in the world whose length is without end.) — found in Bialik & Ravinitzky, based on Kid 39b

Plaut explains that, “through the story of Acher, the command concerning the bird’s nest became a focal point of discussion on biblical theology.” The Rabbis on-going relationship with their apostate colleague is fascinating in its own right — another, somewhat related, path to follow.
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Pinchas: A Path to Follow

Our masters taught: The man gathering was Zelophehad. Thus is is said, “And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks of wood upon the Sabbath day….and they stoned him with stones, and he died” (Num. 15:32 and 15:36); while elsewhere the daughters of Zelophehad said, “Our father died in the wilderness” (Num. 27:3). Just as in this instance Zelophehad is meant, so, too, Zelophehad [is meant] earlier. Such was R. Akiva’s opinion. But R. Judah ben Betera said to him, “Akiva, in either case you will have to justify yourself: if you are right, then you have revealed the identify of a man whom the Torah shielded; and if you are wrong, you are casting stigma upon a righteous man.” Continue reading Pinchas: A Path to Follow

Chukat: Great Source(s)

Miriam’s death (verse 20:1) is juxtaposed with another water crisis:

The community was without water, and they joined against Moses and Aaron. The people quarrelled with Moses, saying, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished at the instance of YHVH!…” (Numbers/Bamidbar 20:2-3)

This juxtaposition is one of the sources for the concept of “Miriam’s Well,” a movable source of water that followed the Israelites due to Miriam’s merit. (The cloud of glory, accompanying the Ark, was in Aaron’s merit; the manna, in Moses’ [Talmud tractate Ta’anit 9a].) For more on Miriam’s Well — including 15 traditional sources and one modern study — see entry #496 in Tree of Souls by Howard Schwartz (Oxford University Press, 2004).
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(Learned) Women in the Talmud

UPDATED 5/9/19: removing outdated links; hope to add newer ones in their place sometime soon

Some basic info about specific women whose learning is acknowledged in the Talmud (vs., e.g. texts about women or women’s learning or, more generally, the status of women).

Below are some print resources and a few more links, but here are some basics regarding some of the most prominent women of learning in the Talmud:
Continue reading (Learned) Women in the Talmud