TORAH TIDBIT

Torah Tidbits - Study Judaism with Rabbi Rapport and Rabbi David.
Torah Tidbits - Study Judaism with Rabbi Rapport and Rabbi David. Ki Tisa Tetzaveh Pekudei Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1−5:26)The opening word of Leviticus that gives the book and this first parashah its name is Vayikra Tazria Metzorah Achrei Mot Emor B’har B’hukotai Sh’lach L’cha Korach Matot Masei D'varim Va-et’chanan Eikev Nitzavim Chayei Sarah Tol'dot Mishpatim

Va-eira – וָאֵרָא (Exodus 6:2−9:35)

This Week’s Torah Portion: Va-eira – וָאֵרָא (Exodus 6:2−9:35)

Obstructed Lips Free Speech

וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר מֹשֶׁ֔ה לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר הֵ֤ן בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֹֽא־שָׁמְע֣וּ אֵלַ֔י וְאֵיךְ֙ יִשְׁמָעֵ֣נִי פַרְעֹ֔ה וַאֲנִ֖י עֲרַ֥ל שְׂפָתָֽיִם׃ {פ}
Vay’dabeir Moshe Lif’nei Adonai, leimor hen, ‘B’nei Yis’ra-el lo sham’u ei-lai v’eich yish’ma-eini Pharoah va’ani aral s’fataim.
But Moses appealed to יהוה, saying, “The Israelites would not listen to me; how then should Pharaoh heed me, me—who gets tongue-tied!”

Rashi translates the phrase “aral s’fataim” as obstructed. Among the many proof texts he offers, he includes the following:

“their ear is עֲרֵלָה (a-ra-lei)— stopped up so that it will not hear-Jeremiah 6:10  

“עַרְלִי (a-ra-li)in heart” — their hearts are closed so that they will not understand; -Jeremiah 9:25

 עֲרַ֥ל (a-ral) elevates the underlying currents at play in this parsha. The Israelites are not open to hearing Moses, Pharoah’s heart repeatedly opens and then closes again. Moses’s physical impediment also reflects deep emotional and psychological impediments. He is truly blocked- physically he cannot express the words he needs to, and one might imagine, his fear and apprehension are now heightened as he must face his tragic past and uncertain future all in the same moment.

Yet, Moses does what many would not. He surrounds himself with support- in this case, God and his brother Aaron, and steps into the lion’s den.

What obstructions are you facing in this moment? Who do you need to surround yourself with so that you might feel able to take the next step into your lion’s den? Va’eira Adonai- and God appeared. How is God appearing to you in this moment?

Parsha Va-eira – וָאֵרָא Torah Summary:

Despite God’s message that they will be redeemed from slavery, the Israelites’ spirits remain crushed. God instructs Moses and Aaron to deliver the Israelites from the land of Egypt. (6:2-13) The genealogy of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and their descendants is recorded. (6:14-25) Moses and Aaron perform a miracle with a snake and relate to Pharaoh God’s message to let the Israelites leave Egypt. (7:8-13) The first seven plagues occur. God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh rescinds each offer to let the Israelites go. (7:14-9:35) Va-eira – וָאֵרָא
Torah Tidbits - Study Judaism with Rabbi Rapport and Rabbi David. Ki Tisa Tetzaveh Pekudei Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1−5:26)The opening word of Leviticus that gives the book and this first parashah its name is Vayikra Tazria Metzorah Achrei Mot Emor B’har B’hukotai Sh’lach L’cha Korach Matot Masei D'varim Va-et’chanan Eikev Nitzavim Chayei Sarah Tol'dot Mishpatim

Sh’mot – שְׁמוֹת (Exodus 1:1−6:1)

This Week’s Torah Portion: Sh’mot – שְׁמוֹת (Exodus 1:1−6:1)

“Out of the Mountain of Despair a Stone of Hope[1]”_Shemot 2023 by Cantor Lauren Adesnik

וְכַאֲשֶׁר֙ יְעַנּ֣וּ אֹת֔וֹ כֵּ֥ן יִרְבֶּ֖ה וְכֵ֣ן יִפְרֹ֑ץ וַיָּקֻ֕צוּ מִפְּנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

V’cha’asher y’anu oto kein yir-beh v’chein yif’rotz va-ya-ku-tzu mi-p’nei b’nei Yis’ra-el.

But the more they [the Israelites] were oppressed, the more they increased and spread out, so that the [Egyptians] came to dread the Israelites.

Exodus 1:12

18th Century commentator Or HaChaim, one of the founding members of the European Hasidic movement offers an interpretation through a lens of Jewish mystysism. Referencing the Zohar (literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah)  he concludes that the more The more persecution the Israelites suffered the more “good” was released from what had been only a mixture of good and evil previously. With the release of that “good”, i.e. good qualities, the Israelite families merited having more and more children.

This abundance of procreation not only elevated the blessings of the Israelites, it brought forth a new generation and a sense of renewed faith and hope for the future. This concept still rings true today. The more oppression many marginalized communities face today, the more good will rise from that oppression if we center ourselves with a firm foundation of faith and hope.

This weekend as we begin our journey from slavery to freedom as detailed in the book of Exodus, we celebrate and remember one of the most remarkable prophets of the 20th century Martin Luther King Jr.  We cannot equate our story with that of our brothers and sisters here in America, yet we stand together as brothers, sisters and fellow human beings in continuing to rise above the marginalization and oppression that faces us today.

Hope is  our launching pad.  It is the light that illuminates our path.  It is hope that keeps us moving forward when all seems lost, or the finish line seems impossibly far away. As we face the rise of antisemitism, racism, and divisive community, let hope motivate our action to “go high, when everyone else goes low.”

Shabbat Shalom


[1] Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have a Dream” Washington, D.C. August 28th, 1963

Parsha Sh’mot – שְׁמוֹת Torah Summary:

The new king of Egypt makes slaves of the Hebrews and orders their male children to be drowned in the Nile River. (1:1-22) A Levite woman places her son, Moses, in a basket on the Nile, where he is found by the daughter of Pharaoh and raised in Pharaoh’s house. (2:1-10) Moses flees to Midian after killing an Egyptian. (2:11-15) Moses marries Zipporah, the daughter of Midian’s priest. They have a son named Gershom. (2:16-22) God calls Moses from a burning bush and commissions him to free the Israelites from Egypt. (3:1-4:17) Moses and Aaron request permission from Pharaoh for the Israelites to celebrate a festival in the wilderness. Pharaoh refuses and makes life even harder for the Israelites. (5:1-23) Sh’mot – שְׁמוֹת
Torah Tidbits - Study Judaism with Rabbi Rapport and Rabbi David. Ki Tisa Tetzaveh Pekudei Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1−5:26)The opening word of Leviticus that gives the book and this first parashah its name is Vayikra Tazria Metzorah Achrei Mot Emor B’har B’hukotai Sh’lach L’cha Korach Matot Masei D'varim Va-et’chanan Eikev Nitzavim Chayei Sarah Tol'dot Mishpatim

Vayechi – וַיְחִי (Genesis 47:28–50:26)

This Week’s Torah Portion: Vayechi – וַיְחִי (Genesis 47:28–50:26)

Jacob our Patriarch blesses his grandchildren, saying: “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh” (Genesis 48:20). Their names are Ephraim and Manasseh. That is the traditional blessing for children still today.

May God make you whom you ought to be, and may God make you true to yourself. May you be you!

Parsha Vayechi – וַיְחִי Torah Summary:

Jacob blesses his grandchildren Ephraim and Manasseh. (48:1-20) Jacob’s twelve sons gather around his deathbed, and each receives an evaluation and a prediction of his future. (49:1-33) Joseph mourns his father’s death and has Jacob embalmed. Jacob is buried in Hebron in the cave of the field of the Machpelah in the land of Canaan. (50:1-14) Joseph assures his concerned brothers that he has forgiven them and promises to care for them and their families. (50:15-21) Just before he dies, Joseph tells his brothers that God will return them to the Land that God promised to the patriarchs. The Children of Israel promise Joseph that they will take his bones with them when they leave Egypt. (50:22-26) Vayechi – וַיְחִי Jacob our Patriarch blesses his grandchildren, saying: “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh” (Genesis 48:20). Their names are Ephraim and Manasseh. That is the traditional blessing for children still today. May God make you whom you ought to be, and may God make you true to yourself. May you be you! Vayechi – וַיְחִי Jacob blesses his grandchildren Ephraim and Manasseh. (48:1-20) Jacob’s twelve sons gather around his deathbed, and each receives an evaluation and a prediction of his future. (49:1-33) Joseph mourns his father’s death and has Jacob embalmed. Jacob is buried in Hebron in the cave of the field of the Machpelah in the land of Canaan. (50:1-14) Joseph assures his concerned brothers that he has forgiven them and promises to care for them and their families. (50:15-21) Just before he dies, Joseph tells his brothers that God will return them to the Land that God promised to the patriarchs. The Children of Israel promise Joseph that they will take his bones with them when they leave Egypt. (50:22-26)
Torah Tidbits - Study Judaism with Rabbi Rapport and Rabbi David. Ki Tisa Tetzaveh Pekudei Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1−5:26)The opening word of Leviticus that gives the book and this first parashah its name is Vayikra Tazria Metzorah Achrei Mot Emor B’har B’hukotai Sh’lach L’cha Korach Matot Masei D'varim Va-et’chanan Eikev Nitzavim Chayei Sarah Tol'dot Mishpatim

Vayigash – וַיִּגַּשׁ (Genesis 44:18−47:27)

This Week’s Torah Portion: Vayigash – וַיִּגַּשׁ (Genesis 44:18−47:27)

Joseph sends his brothers with gifts “To each of them, moreover, he gave a change of clothing; but to Benjamin, he gave three hundred pieces of silver and several*several Lit. “five”; cf. 43.34. changes of clothing” (Genesis 45:22).

We cling to our mistakes, and we repeat the mistakes of our parents. Just as Jacob discriminated against Joseph and created hatred between the brothers, so does Joseph when he gives Benjamin so much more.

The rabbis learn from this that a smart person is the one who learns from their own mistakes and from the mistakes of others.

Parsha Vayigash – וַיִּגַּשׁ Torah Summary:

Judah pleads with Joseph to free Benjamin and offers himself as a replacement. (44:18-34) Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and forgives them for selling him into slavery. (45:1-15) Although the famine still rages, Pharaoh invites Joseph’s family to “live off the fat of the land.” (45:16-24) Jacob learns that Joseph is still alive and, with God’s blessing, goes to Egypt. (45:25-46:33) Pharaoh permits Joseph’s family to settle in Goshen. Pharaoh then meets with Jacob. (47:1-12) With the famine increasing, Joseph designs a plan for the Egyptians to trade their livestock and land for food. The Israelites thrive in Egypt. (47:13-27) Vayigash – וַיִּגַּשׁ Joseph sends his brothers with gifts “To each of them, moreover, he gave a change of clothing; but to Benjamin, he gave three hundred pieces of silver and several*several Lit. “five”; cf. 43.34. changes of clothing” (Genesis 45:22). We cling to our mistakes, and we repeat the mistakes of our parents. Just as Jacob discriminated against Joseph and created hatred between the brothers, so does Joseph when he gives Benjamin so much more. The rabbis learn from this that a smart person is the one who learns from their own mistakes and from the mistakes of others.

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