Passover and Awakening

Now when a man becomes aware that he is falling asleep and begins to nod and he is afraid that a strong, heavy sleep may overcome him, the best advice for him is for him to request his friend to wake him from time to time or that he should go among people where a […]

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Remember Miriam: Process & Patience in Parashat Ki Teitzei

“Remember what your God YHVH did to Miriam on the journey after you left Egypt.” — Deuteronomy/Devarim 24:9 — What is this personal remembrance doing in the midst of a portion which consists largely of commandment after commandment? And what might it tell us, in these days leading up to the high holidays, about memory […]

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Sibling Prophets Together Before God

This post originally appeared on Clergy Beyond Borders’ News/Views blog, June 9, 2011. Sibling prophets argue but find a way to remain together in the third Bible portion in our “wilderness” series. The reading — Numbers 8:1-12:16 — includes a dramatic, rather cryptic, passage* involving the prophet Miriam, sister of Moses, covered in “scales, white […]

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One Woman’s Conclusion (Ex. 24)

One Woman’s Conclusion (a Haftorah) for Exodus 24:1-11 I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how glad I often was that I was not destined to fully join my husband’s prophetic family. I, for one, was perfectly content as one of the ones who stayed far off [1]. I already knew I couldn’t — and wouldn’t care […]

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Drawing Back: Zipporah’s View

Drawing Back A Midrash on Exodus 4:24-26 [18] Moses and I have long agreed that our journey left us in very different places. Only recently, though, have I come to wonder if we even shared a starting point… In the beginning, I remember, both boys [1] were almost trampled to death when the elder tried […]

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Beshalach: Language and Translation

There are several significant shifts of number in this week’s portion. One occurs earlier in the portion, when “Egypt” and “the Egyptians” chase the Israelites. In Shemot/Exodus 14:9, the Egyptians are plural and take a plural verb: Va-yirdefu Mitzrayim achareihem [The Egyptians set out after them] In the next verse, however, the Israelites view “Egypt” […]

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Ha’azinu: A Path to Follow

As we near the end of Deuteronomy/Devarim and prepare to begin the cycle again, I think it’s worth taking a few moments to notice the differences between translations/commentaries. Even when the English does not appear to vary much, each translation/commentary shifts the focus slightly. Take, e.g., Devarim/Deuteronomy 32:2: May my discourse [likchi] come down as […]

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Ki Teitzei: Great Source(s)

Many commentators remark on the injunction to remember Miriam’s tzaarat [skin condition] (Devarim/Deuteronomy 24:9). It is the only mention of her in Deuteronomy. Moses’ sister, unnamed, appears in Exodus/Shemot 2:1-10; Miriam is mentioned by name in Exodus/Shemot 15:20-21 and Numbers/Bamidbar 12:1 and 20:1. Tzaarat and Zipporah In Frankel’s The Five Books of Miriam, “Our Daughters” […]

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Behaalotekha: Great Source

My all-time favorite midrash is a commentary on Numbers/Bamidbar 12:1ff. It identifies Moses’ “Cushite wife,” against whom Miriam complains, as the black ink of the Torah: in this view Miriam believes that Moses has become too wed to the letters of the Torah and its literal meaning, while she continues to advocate for the white […]

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