Tag Archives: Torah reading

OzTorah: Torah reading – Sh’mot

TASKMASTERS. The labour of the Israelite slaves in Egypt was superintended by “sarei missim”, which the translators usually render “taskmasters” (Ex. 1:11). “Mas”, the singular of “missim”, is something imposed upon you by force. In modern Hebrew it conveys the idea of imposed taxation. Hence a better translation of “sarei …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyiggash

Apologies to Rabbi Apple and readers. This should have been posted a few days ago but wit all the holidays it got completely overlooked. LOUD & QUIET VOICE. After a lot of drama. Joseph and his brothers are finally reconciled. Years of estrangement fall away. All of Egypt soon hears …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Mikketz.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH JOSEPH? Things did not prove easy for Joseph. The lad who embodied so much potential, who dreamt such visions of the future, was degraded and sold as a slave by his own brothers. Whether they were justified in taking offence at what he dreamt and said …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyishlach

BOXING & WRESTLING. A television station once brought me from Sydney to Melbourne to take part in a programme about boxing. I told them of course that though there were famous Jewish boxers, the morality of boxing was highly suspect. They didn’t ask me about wrestling, but I would have …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Tol’dot

  THE CHILD A PARENT WOULD PREFER. Jacob and Esau each had his parental champion. Rebekah preferred Jacob; Isaac preferred Esau (Gen. 25:28). Jacob was quiet and studious, finding his pleasures in and around the home; Esau was macho and active, enjoying being out and about. The family dynamics were …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Chayyei Sarah.

THE POETIC DIMENSION. Romantic memory weaves a garland around the name Machpelah, though the area has more robust connotations in Israel’s current environment. Machpelah, established from early Biblical times, was an important place of pilgrimage for medieval travellers like Benjamin of Tudela, who described the two stages by which a …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Vayyera

THREE GOOD MEN. The Zohar compares No’ach, Abraham and Moses. It asks which of the three was the greatest. Its answer: the one who was the best when others were in trouble. No’ach was warned by God that disaster was impending. He built an ark to save himself and his …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Lech L’cha

TWO LECH L’CHAS. There are actually two Biblical commands that say “Lech L’cha”, one here (Gen. 12:1) and one next week (Gen. 22:2) when the Akedah is prefaced by God telling Abraham to take his son and “lech l’cha” (“Go for yourself!”) to the land of Moriah. This Hebrew phrase, …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – No’ach

EVILS & INCLINATIONS. The first lessons that Man learned were how far he could go, both physically and metaphorically. Physically he felt safe as long as the Garden of Eden lasted – but then came the expulsion which propelled him into an often unfriendly world. Thereafter his physical adventures and …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Ki Tavo

THE FAITH OF A WANDERING ARAMEAN. Bringing first fruits to the Sanctuary, an Israelite made a declaration that said, “My father was a wandering Aramean” (Deut. 26:5). Ignaz Maybaum, an Anglo-Jewish philosopher who came from the great pre-War community of Germany, regarded this verse as theology, not just history. If …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Re’eh.

LOOK AFTER THE LEVITE. In a Torah portion packed with content there comes the sentence, “Do not abandon the Levite” (Deut. 12:19). Look at its context and you understand the verse. Israelite worship had to avoid all forms of idolatry. Authentic Jewish worship had to be structured according to the …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Mass’ei

EFFORT & EXPENSES. Mass’ei is the travel diary of Israel in the wilderness, introduced with the words, “And Moses wrote down their goings forth on their journeys” (Num. 33:2). The word for “their goings forth” is “motza’eihem”. Since the root is “yatza”, to go out, the word could possibly mean …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Mattot

VOWS & PROMISES. The portion begins with a whole section about making vows. From the halachic point of view, the making of vows is a major issue. The halachic analyses of the Kol Nidre with which Yom Kippur commences could take up a library (as could the literary and historical …

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OzTorah: Torah reading – Pinchas.

WHY WAS HE PINCHAS? One of the favourite hobbies of Biblical scholars is tracing the etymology of the names in the Bible. The Tanach itself starts the process when it explains the names of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and so many others. The Midrash continues and fills in many …

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