Student Teaching in the New Millenium

Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

5771 Kedoshim VI

In Leviticus on April 29, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Amos cautions against certitude. The Torah says “do this, certainly”. Why does Amos warn against certitude in the face of a very certain-sounding Torah? I think this is very funny!

Good Shabbos

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5771 Kedoshim V

In Leviticus on April 29, 2011 at 11:50 am

“7 You shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I the Lord am your God. 8 You shall faithfully observe My laws: I the Lord make you holy.”

Why say “sanctify yourselves and be holy”, only to turn around and say “I the Lord make you holy”? Why are these lines grouped as they are?

I think Amos reading is clear here: anyone who engages in or is complicit with Molech worship is sand or chaff in the sieve. What does “set My face against” mean? Ire? Or something more? Does God tell Moses that Moses would die if he saw His face?

Does “the people of the land” mean the Israelites, or the natives? Why not say “the Israelites” or “the Israelites and those among them”?

Why single Molech out here? Is it significant that the word “Molech” is similar to the word “King”?

5771 Kedoshim IV

In Leviticus on April 29, 2011 at 1:24 am

Why mention honest weights and measures here? Why not mention them earlier, when talking about dealing well with your neighbors? Is this mentioned here to add special emphasis to treating aliens well?

Do the people already in the land qualify as strangers? How can they be strangers in their own homes?

Does Amos say that bad behavior towards neighbors is unnecessary in expounding all the blessings of the faithful?

The sieve metaphor for sinners and the righteous, we were all dispersed, not just sinners. Could “perish” mean assimilate?

Does Amos read this passage as the importance of having standards? If we don’t have standards, how can we behave justly? How can we say God is just? How can we say God “is”?

5771 Kedoshim III

In Leviticus on April 28, 2011 at 2:36 am

Kimchi calls the tabernacle of David in Amos a protection to the people. Could it be understood as the people itself?

The commentators explain that the first few years’ fruit of the trees are forbidden because of health and idol worship, and to respect the natural life cycle of the trees themselves. Why? What does this mean for modern ways of making plants yield faster? Does this mean something to people who rush useless goods to market?

Does abusing the land constitute selling it into harlotry? Is instant gratification a form of lewdness?

The commentators link a lot of this to divination. The benefits that Amos describes requires honest human investment to achieve. Are Amos and the parsha saying don’t be fickle?

5771 Kedoshim II

In Leviticus on April 27, 2011 at 3:48 am

How is love thy neighbor reconciled with the biblically sanctioned violence that ensues? What’s in a neighbor? A person? A nation?

I think Amos and this parsha condemn a lot of the shenanigans that have taken place during the peace process over there. Is it ignorance? Willful negligence? Or a fiction regarded as a fiction?

Amos compares Israel’s flight from Egypt to the Philistines and Aram. I think the commentators are saying that Amos means the sending of the Philistines and Aram into captivity. That seems contradictory: Israel’s return from captivity compared to nations being sent into captivity. Am I reading this right?

Rash interprets verse 20 to be about a Canaanite bondmaid destined for an Israelite slave. Wouldn’t this have been forbidden?

5771 Kedoshim I

In Leviticus on April 26, 2011 at 1:27 am

Does Amos read the parsha as a statement of Israel’s commitments to itself, to it’s neighbors, and God?

5771 Pesach V

In General on April 24, 2011 at 1:43 am

I never understood the narrative of this Parsha. Moses, on the strength of God’s singling him out by name, asks God to know His ways. God decides to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land after previously saying he would not. Moses goes on to ask that, unless God goes in the lead, how would the world know that the Israelites are his distinguished possession? It is only after this that God acknowledges His favor of Moses, and says “I will also do this thing which you have asked,” and reveals Himself to Moses. The order of statements has always confused me; why are they ordered thus?

But I think it’s significant. Ezekiel is concerned with the matter of life and death. On the surface, this is a message of resurrection. I think Ezekiel really says “Have hope, O House of Israel! Even in death, the Lord is your God! And He does not break his promises”. This message is singled out by name: Hope. But it comes after the people are given life and profess their lack of it. Why didn’t God lead them to Israel before they died? Why is it necessary to raise them to life, without their hope intact, and then make this statement separately?

Why is it necessary for God to decide to lead the Israelites before acknowledging Moses’ request, and then acknowledge Moses’ request separately?

Are the Israelites from Egypt, in Ezekiel’s view, like the people in this vision who “lived”, but are still treated as dead?

Ezekiel is an incredible, horrific poet.

Why is the injunction against bathing a calf in it’s mothers’ milk again here repeated?

5771 Pesach IV

In General on April 22, 2011 at 2:07 am

Three feast days? Aren’t there more?

What is the difference between harvest and ingathering?

Why shouldn’t you curse your leaders? Even if they do wrong?

Why is Pesach described so many times?

Why is the injunction to not seethe a kid in it’s mother’s milk repeated here? Why mention it outside the kashrut laws?

5771 Pesach III

In General on April 20, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Why do we feast on the first day and not the seventh day of Passover?

Is 13:14 some kind of embedded early commentary?

The parsha explains that the first born of all things belongs to God because of the plague of the first born. Why is this necessary? Also, why did the plague target the first born only

How can this be a sign upon the hand and frontlets for the eyes?

What is the point of all this?

5771 Pesach II

In General on April 20, 2011 at 2:29 am

What is the distinction between the idolatrous priests and the priest who offered to Baal, et cetera?

Did Josiah destroy shrines to God and other gods? Or just other gods?

Were the priests who ate unleavened bread during the purge Israelite priests? Or other? Why didnt they approach the altar in Jerusalem?

Why did Josiah slay humans on the altar at Bethel? Isn’t this forbidden?

One translation says he put down the priests in Judah. Another says he suppressed them. Which is it?

Why did Josiah love God with all of his heart and soul after being promised that his nation would be destroyed?

I think you’d have to be a wealthy farmer to make all of these offerings. What if you were poor?

Why don’t the commentator’s suggest the Sabbath’s special treatment as a statement of the Sabbath’s importance? Or does this go without saying?

Does the parsha ask: how could we possibly do all of these commandments? Does Josiah answer: with all of your heart and soul?