Student Teaching in the New Millenium

Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

5771 Korach

In Numbers on June 27, 2011 at 12:37 am

Kings, Rabbis, Priests
Good,Bad,worse idols than stone
Worship themselves

Does the Torah ask “why do we fight over titles”? Does the prophet answer “because no good can come of them”?

Does the Torah ask “why do we seek to overcome our betters”? Does the prophet answer “vanity”?

I ask, is this portion about the seven deadly sins?

Does the Torah also ask whose responsibility is it to talk to God? Is it a commandment to have an intercessor? Is Korach right in the sense that we should all have direct access? And does therein lie Korach’s sin: that it’s his responsibility to foster that personal relationship but he delegates it to Moses? How and why does Korach contrive to be right and wrong at the same time?

Is this parsha about leadership? Do we have a responsibility to be leaders, and guard our God-given ability to be leaders, and not surrender this to anyone, like Korach and the Israelites do time and again?

Is this parsha about freedom? Do we have a responsibility to be free, and guard our God-given freedom, and not surrender this to anyone, like Korach and the Israelites do time and again?

Why is it that the fire pans of the deceased are made into plating for the altar as a warning, when it was the wish of their holders to be closer to God? Is this a blessing?

Is this a command to cultivate private religion? Did these people die because they transgressed God’s will? Or did they die because they viewed God and Priesthood as some prize? Do we beat our fire pans into a covering for our altar by owning our own religion, and not seeking after someone else’s?

Do you die before, after, or at the moment you sell your soul?

Is this yet another golden calf?

Does Israel rail against Moses and Aaron? Or God? How do they go from wanting “freedom” to wanting a king? Do they want someone to blame? Is the king of Israel a scape goat? What are the implications of this?

Why would the Israelites consent to allow Aaron to have a staff for choosing? What if Aaron’s name hadn’t been on a staff?

Why take the Levites from the community to Aaron’s family again?

Why make the Levites seem to have it easy? Does the prophet compare the tithes to embezzlement? Did Bernie Madoff fancy himself a modern day Levite?


5771 Sh’lakh L’kha

In Numbers on June 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm

And then there were two
Of twelve who saw and sampled
What say they, not Torah?

The text is very clear about the people found in Canaan. Why does it come as a surprise to the people that the nations of Canaan were powerful? Why let this stop them now?

The prophet details an exchange that occurred in the land. What happened to the scouts of Moses, I wonder? The text documents the goodness of the land; the bad report is heresay. Or is it heresy?

Does the Torah ask “what really happened in the land?”. Does the prophet answer, “seek Rahab”?

The two loyal scouts are descendants of Judah and Joseph, through Ephraim. Why didn’t Manasseh listen to his brother?

Does God punish the Israelites? Or does he simply answer their prayers? Why didn’t the Israelites return to Egypt?

God mentions Caleb twice, and Joshua once, as inheritors of the land. Is this to do with Caleb’s lineage? They both exhorted the Israelites to trust in God, and Joshua is mentioned first in that passage. Is Joshua taken for granted, because of his lineage through Joseph, as Joseph takes God for granted? Or is Caleb honored like Judah, who actively participates in justice, and therefore has to be actively acknowledged? Or is this a double affirmation: Judah’s blessing is assured?

Why do the people reverse from God’s decree without a demonstration of God’s power? How were they convinced that “we were wrong”?

Why does the portion switch so quickly to sacrifice rules? The land is not for that audience any more. Is God only speaking to the ones under twenty? Or does God still speak to everyone? How did the people respond?

Why stone a man in the wilderness for violating the sabbath? Was he an Israelite? Or someone else? What business is it of ours?

Why mention the fringe here? What use do the disenfranchised have for fringes, or any of this for that matter? Does the prophet answer “the fringe is an acceptance, and a redemption.”

Why twelve scouts here, and two scouts in the prophetic reading?

5771 B’haalot’kha 2

In Numbers on June 12, 2011 at 9:39 pm

God created
We comment
Who wears the pants now?

The people ask Moses about Passover celebration for the unclean. Moses brings the question before God, and God comments. So here God comments on the Torah. does God create anything after giving man the breath of life? by giving us the power to create, did God share His creative power with us? or did he give it us wholly? can God still commnt? or is creation now a wholly human edeavour? what does that mean?

5771 B’haalot’kha

In Numbers on June 12, 2011 at 12:05 am

bad food, discipline
say one thing, do another
whine about freedom

are the levites here viewed as a sin offerimg before laying hands on the bull? are the Jewish people today a sin offering, not as a sacrifice, but as witnesses and participants? how do we realize joshua today?

why the repetition about the levites being taken for the firstborn?

why 25 and 50 as the limits of service? why not more or less? why just the levites?

is the passover allowance literal? what about those on spiritual journeys? what about the spiritually unclean? what does it mean to be spiritually unclean versus physically unclean?

why the example of God as drill seargent? does this serve to show the israelites as obedient? or are these the many people attached to the Lord? cn you truly attach yourself to the lord if you are stubborn and stiffnecked? what about hypocrites?

how did the israelites know both trumpets were sounded if they were made the same way and sounded alike?

does the statement about the trumpets end with responding to war in the land to discourage thhe idea of israel as aggressor? what does this mean for crusades and jihads?

was it ok for levites to mingle with the cloud? how else could they set up the tent for the cloud to settle on?

did hobab stay or go?

what does it mean to be israel’s myriads of thousands?

what did the people complain about the first time? why two sets of complaints, one general and oe specific?

is riffraff a subset of people or a derogatory for everyone at this point? what do the people really have to complain about aside from the burden of freedom? what does God expect, the people being ground down for centuries?

why just the spirit for seventy? why not the six hundred thousand?

how can the text say seventy elders were placed about the tent of meeting, but then say eldad and medad were among those recorded but werent actually there? what is the purpose of them being in the camp? why didnt they inspire a fervor?

why does God first threaten to force the people to eat meat for a month and then plague them at the first bite? is the compulsion to eat nothing but meat the plague? it says those wth the craving died there. did they turn cannibal on each other? if the people all went for the quail, why distinguish between them and thosse with the craving?

i wonder if God’s punishment of Miriam was just a punishment…or a riddle.

A Brief Interlude

In General on June 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I’m traveling for the next few weeks and won’t post as often. I will be studying. There are new adventures to be had, outside and in! Dear readers, you should too.

take care,

5771 Naso

In Numbers on June 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Holy. Disgusting.
Together, separated?
Apart by degrees.

I’ve read of Naso rendered as “to uplift”. My translations maintain “to count”. Which? One or the other? Or both? Does the word have the same root as “nassi” (chieftain)? And, in that case, to make these families “chieftains” of their duty? But in that case, why declare Ithamar over them?

What of Merari, who is spared this word?

The Torah more forcefully says to “serve the service of the service”. What is meant by this? Is this wholesome engagement in your work? Thorough self-becoming your convictions? Or to apply another Rabbi’s ideas about the Kohath, Gershon, and Merari families, can we render, “Study the Prayer of the Service”?

Does “eesh eesh” denote “all (wo)men” or stress the primacy of “each, each”?

Why render the Hebrew for the lepers here as “get them away from everyone” when the Hebrew seems to say “outside the camp of the children of Israel to camp so that I’ may dwell therein”? Could these people be Samson? And, perhaps, Samson unburdened with distractions?

How separated must Samson have felt.

What is the difference between the leper and the nazirite? Both are separations. One is “disgusting” and one is not. One is mandatory, the other by choice. And yet, these injunctions are placed nearby. Does the Torah say “separate but don’t despise. Both are a holy service”? Does the Prophet say “why worry about this stuff? The answer is within it”?

Is jealousy another form of separation? And by putting the woman under these conditions, does it test the woman’s mettle for separation? What about the man, who is already separated? Or is it a lesson in the ugliness of jealousy, as the pair in the Prophet are fine with a little divine guidance (from another “man”, no less) in conceiving? Does the Prophet chide “don’t be ridiculous. You claim to love this person, and you make them do that?”

The Prophet says that the woman ran to the husband. Does the Torah seem to say by satire how utterly stupid the barley test is, and is this why I can’t find it said anywhere that the woman actually consumes the barley and the water? Rather than causing a lot of women to die for the stupidity of men, does the Torah cause a lot of women to live to remind the men of their stupidity?

This is called the law of jealousy. What does this actually say about infidelity? And what about the man’s own role and tendencies?

Does the Prophet say “your wife runs to you. That’s my message. What she does to you, that’s your message.”?