In this week’s Torah portion, Sh’lach L’cha, 12 scouts are sent into the Promised Land to bring back a report to the former slaves in the wilderness. Ten of them report that the Land flows with milk and honey, but it will be difficult to conquer. Two spies present a different point of view, projecting an energizing sense of hope over a paralyzing sense of fear.
The word for “and” in Hebrew is not a separate word: it is a one-letter prefix, the letter vav. Sometimes it is translated as and, other times it is best translated as “but”; sometimes, vav is a participle that doesn’t need to be translated. In the opening sentence of Parashat Mishpatim, the translation used in the Reform Movement’s Chumash discounts the vav that is attached to first word, v'eileh, "these" or "and these."
This year, I have the pleasure of studying the Book of Exodus together with the lay-led Hebrew Bible study group at Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I serve as senior rabbi.
In Parashat Mishpatim , God continues to speak to the Israelite people, expanding on and extending the "general principles of the covenant" set forth in Parashat Yitro. In The Torah: A Women's Commentary, Elaine Goodfriend notes that this parashah presents a co
Ask your average Jew-on-the street (well educated or not) for the five most important or famous texts of the Torah, and she will certainly include the Ten Commandments.
Exodus, Chapter 32 begins with these words: “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain . . . ” (Exodus 32:1). It’s a strange turn of phrase. What was it that they saw?