Weekly Torah Reading, Noaḥ, October 21, 2017

The Drunken Tzaddik     Humanity, according to the Torah, got off to a bad start. First, Adam and Eve violated the one commandment that God gave them and were subsequently kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Then their …

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Weekly Torah Reading Bereshit October 14, 2017

Childbirth and the Creation of Eve; also, Eve Was No “Helpmate”   According to Leviticus chapter 12, if a woman gives birth to a male baby, she remains in a state of ritual impurity (tum’ah) for seven days. But if …

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Weekly Torah Reading, October 7, 2017

The Shabbat of “Booths”   Sukkot is a somewhat puzzling festival. To start with, it’s not clear what the role of the sukkah was in the biblical celebration. True, the Torah does say (Lev 23:43) that the Israelites dwelled in …

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Weekly Torah Reading Ha’azinu September 23, 2017

A note to subscribers: Last week, a new book of mine was published, The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times. I feel a little sheepish about including an announcement of it with my regular comment on the weekly Torah …

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Weekly Torah Reading Nitzavim-Vayyelekh September 16, 2017

Moses Didn’t Want to Die   In this week’s Torah reading, God instructs Moses that the time has come for him to die—in fact, He says this more than once. The reading opens with Moses relating that “the Lord said …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Ki Tavo, September 9, 2017

By the Book   This week’s reading contains a curious provision. Moses instructs the Israelites that as soon as they cross the Jordan River to enter their future homeland, they are to write down the words of “this Torah” on …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Ki Tetze, September 2, 2017

Every Day Is Labor Day   This weekend (running over into Monday), Americans will be celebrating Labor Day, the annual occasion established in the late 1800s to celebrate the labor movement in the United States. (Elsewhere in the world, May …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Shofetim, August 26, 2017

Kings, Think Twice!    “The ancient Near East,” wrote the Egyptologist Henri Frankfort, “considered kingship the very basis of civilization. Only savages could live without a king. Security, peace, and justice could not prevail without a ruler to champion them. …

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