Community, Leadership, and Listening

Leadership and community are key elements in the early chapters of Exodus. We see a variety of strong actions and interactions: 1) Moses sees an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew; he responds by killing the Egyptian and then hides the deceased in the sand. 2) Moses sees two Hebrew men fighting and tries to stop […]

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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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Praying to Pray: Va-Et’chanan Prayer Links

The earliest prayer links in Va-etchanan come in the first verse, long before what is probably the portion’s most famous passage: the first paragraph of the Shema (Deut. 6:4-9). In fact, there are prayer links galore in the portion’s first word: “va-etchanan” [I pleaded, implored]. Some commentaries examine details of the communication between Moses and […]

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Emor: A Path to Follow

The story [of the blasphemer, Leviticus/Vayikra 24:10-23] is noteworthy in that it is one of only four incidents in the Torah in which Moses is shown asking God how to decide an issue (the others are Numbers 9:6ff, 15:32ff, and 27:1ff). Moses sought God’s judgment because the punishment for blasphemy had not yet been detailed. […]

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Acharei Mot: Something to Notice

“Acharei mot [after the death].” This expression refers to the deaths of Nadav and Abihu after they “came near” (elsewhere: “brought strange fire”) before the Lord (see parashat Shemini). For some readers, I imagine, it’s a relatively simple chronology-determining statement: this happened after that. For people who have experienced a cataclysmic loss — the early […]

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Shemini: Something to Notice

“Now about the hairy-goat of hattat,* Moses inquired, yes, ** inquired [darosh ** darash]…” (Vayikra/Leviticus 10:16). *Fox leaves this untranslated; usually rendered “sin offering.” ** According to those who count such things — the Masoretes, for example — the word “darosh” appears in the first half of the Torah, word-wise, and “darash” appears in the […]

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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…”

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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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