Student Teaching in the New Millenium

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

5771 Shabbos I

In General on May 28, 2011 at 12:37 am

The difference
between Good and Evil
The tension
between all and Shabbos


5771 B’midbar V

In Numbers on May 28, 2011 at 12:30 am

All the same, all one.
Caretakers, He made them.
Do this with them, equals.

We are taught today that the sons of Aaron, the priesthood, are to do the duties of the Tent of Meeting alongside the Kohathites. Why?

What does this say about management? What does this say about leadership?

What does this say about study?

Good Shabbos

5771 B’midbar IV

In Numbers on May 27, 2011 at 11:29 am

First-born? First-born what?
Female and Male, made He them.
Why none, and then one?

Lions, Tigers, and Bears?

Why redeem the first-born and then command only to count the males?

One of the stories says that Moses passes among Israel little pieces of paper, some of which said “five shekels” on them to determine who had to pay the redemption price. Can redemption rely on something so simple as drawing straws?

This portion of the Torah alludes to male service in the sanctuary indirectly. There is nothing here that says “women shall not be involved”. In fact, all Levites are taken to God for service. Why the hullabaloo over female priests and rabbis?

Some creative retellings:

One day, God redeemed the first-born of Israel through the Levites. There was much partying in the wilderness. In the midst of it all, a father said to his child “thank God! Not mine!”

One day, God redeemed the first-born of Israel through the Levites. There was much jealousy in the wilderness. And they said, “who are they to be set over us? Are we but the children of Israel? And they the children of God?”

One day, God redeemed the first-born of Israel through the Levites. The children of Israel drew straws to determine whose first-born was “redeemed” and who had to pay the redemption price. When this was said and done, everyone said to everyone else, “why should I have to pay for your kid?”

One day, God redeemed the first-born of Israel through the Levites. And the Levite sons were counted according to the number of the names, by the guidelines set forth by God. The women asked, “why can only the men work in the Sanctuary?”. And the men said “the difference is not that you cannot work in the Sanctuary. The difference is that you can get out of it.”

5771 B’midbar III

In Numbers on May 26, 2011 at 12:01 am

Given, Given, they to him?
Taken, Taken they to Him?
Bless’d? Curs’d?

And how do they feel?

Is the special treatment of the Levites a blessing or a curse? They are spared the draft but are also placed in a servile role. Are they totally reliant on the other tribes for defense? How are they supposed to feel about this? What about the other tribes?

What if I were a Levite and wanted to fight for my people? What then? Or does the Torah ask “is this really about what you want?”

Does the taking of the Levites satisfy the redemption of the first born? Why?

Why the Levites? Let’s assume this is a lesson in humility: why not Simeon and Levi? Was not the blessing to “scatter them in Israel”? For that matter, why not Reuben? He might have given up his status, but he was still the first-born of Israel. Why not Joseph? Not the first-born in time, but in love?

What does it mean here to keep the charge of the children of Israel?

How does camping the Levites around the tabernacle prevent anger? Why not inspire jealousy? On the one hand, they’re not military. On the other hand, they live on the backs of the others.

Does the changing ordering point to the eventual unification of the tribes? How does this honor the preciousness of the individuals? Does the Prophet ask if the tribes are lovers? Does the prophet ask if the tribes are children?

5771 B’midbar II

In Numbers on May 24, 2011 at 4:09 am

More Numbered than sand
More precious than moon and sun
For you, land. For Me, You?

Why a coin, as Rashi explains? Why not some other article? What makes a coin so special?

Why does the ordering of the tribes change here? Why is the repetition necessary? Is this an expression of love? Is a name a tender word?

Does the Torah ask “what if just one of these people strays from their birthright?” Does the Prophet answer “can just one of these people wander from their birthright?”

5771 B’midbar I

In Numbers on May 23, 2011 at 11:21 am

Sweet bride, gentle wife
Why look? Why covet? Why stray?
To what isn’t there?

Why go through the count? Is this why we are supposed to be good businessmen? Because our history is accounting?

Why does v.1-19 of the parsha feel like a palindrome?

Why are the Levites excluded from the list here? It mentions later that they are to care for the Tabernacle. Why not mention this now? Is this reward? Or punishment?

How do we know the tribes responded truthfully to the count? Parents go to lengths for their sons. Is this why the word “mee-ben” in “from twenty years upwards” incorporates the word “children”?

Are the names of the tribes “tender words spoken in the wilderness”?

Why pair a prophetic reading about peace with a parsha about the draft?

Would you call this calculating a strong start or a weak start to what’s to come?

5771 A Commentary on Modern Reading

In General on May 22, 2011 at 11:04 pm

We love and despise
We study and we ignore
what’s before us. Why?

5771 B’chukottai V

In Leviticus on May 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Why is merit treated like currency?  If, as Rabbi Pinchas Winston asserts, the Israelites used up the patriarchs’ merit before they left Egypt, why bother?

What is religion?

5771 B’hukkotai IV

In Leviticus on May 20, 2011 at 1:01 am

What does it mean to be “in” a statute? Is it significant that both Hebrew words for statute and covenant are both preceded by the ‘bet’ for “in” or “with”, but ordinances and commandments are usually not?

How are we supposed to do all of these commandments?

Why would someone make a vow to give according to an estimation of a person? Where did the prescribed assessments come from? Are these taxes?

5771 B’hukkotai III

In Leviticus on May 18, 2011 at 3:35 am

Is God the wounded bride?

Does the Torah ask “who? us?”

Why One God? Who is to say that these actions weren’t spoken by some other god?

Why is God or god such a weird word?