The Book of Exodus – Session III

March 24, 2010

In this ongoing class on the book of shemot we looked at different approaches to Moshe’s encounter with God at the burning bush.  We began with a debate from the Gemara in Berachot (7a) about whether or not Moshe behaved appropriately when he hid his face.  Was this a sign of great humility or misplaced fear?

We then moved to the Ramban about why Moshe could not come too close – because he had not yet reached the level of prophecy that he would reach at the revelation of the Torah.

Finally, we discussed Rabbeinu Bechaya’s reading of the removal of shoes. Was this simply a sign a respect?  Was this a sign of removing physicality? Perhaps there was something even deeper going on.

We concluded with a quick read through of chapters three and four and analysis of the personality of Moshe at that moment in time.

You can find the core texts at this link.

Here is the audio of this session:

Exodus 3 & 4 – Remove your shoes – Ramban Bachya

After we concluded chapters three and four we went to an analysis of some material from the Seder.  The core issue that we addressed is what is the low-point of Jewish history (genut) and what is the concomitant high-point?  In addition to the material on this sheet, we also looked at 2 Kings chapter 25 and the way in which that shows the failure of the Jewish people to ever actually leave Egypt.

May we each merit to experience a sense of personal and communal redemption this Pesach.

Here is the audio from this session:

Pesach – begin with degredation and conclude with liberation


Yoma 77a-b

March 22, 2010

In this shiur we analyzed the three different sources that the Gemara offered for washing as innuy.  In addition we looked at Biblical verses that form the framework for the all the other innuyim.  One might go from these verses to an assumption that all these innuyim are from the Torah.  It is important to keep in mind the Gemara quotes only verses from Nach (not chumash).

Here is the text that we learned.

Yoma 77a – Washing as Innuy Cont’d and the other innuyim


The Book of Exodus Session II

March 22, 2010

In this ongoing series on the Book of Shemot we learned through a series of commentaries on the the first verse of chapter two.  It a fascinating to see how the Rabbis of the Talmud have an understanding of a verse (cited by Rashi) that is rejected by Ibn Ezra and Ramban.  You can find the Hebrew and English of the sources that we studied at this link.

In addition we saw a deep insight into the notion of redemption and the redeemer as one who is always “on the way” (lech).

We then went on to discuss some of the leadership traits of Moshe.

We concluded with some material on Pesach.

The Book of Shemot – Chapter Two verse One

The Book of Shemot – Mei haShiloach and Pesach


The Book of Exodus

March 12, 2010

This is the opening session of a series that will tackle the Book of Shemot. The core texts that we studied are the introductions to the Book by Ramban and Seforno – each presents a unique lense through which to read the book. One of the fundamental dichotomies that run through out the Chumash, and is keenly felt in Shemot, is the Jewish People as a nation or a religion. The way that the Ramban expresses this tension is in response to the question of when the exile of Egypt is “fixed”? It appears that there are two potential end points to Exodus – Sinai and the entrance into the Land. Is it through Moshe or Yehoshua that the Egyptian exile is finally brought to its conclusion? Do we become a nation with the receipt of the laws of the Torah on Sinai (in the desert, outside of Israel) or only with in the entry into the Land and the established of our own government?

The texts that we used can be found at this link.

In addition here are the two audio files of the class:

The Book of Shemot – Introduction – Ramban Seforno #1

The Book of Shemot – Introduction – Ramban Seforno #2


Yoma 76a – The Five Inuyyim

March 4, 2010

In this shiur we learned the gemara that tries to line up the five innuyim of Yom Kippur with five different times that the word “innuy” appears in the Torah.  Because of the language of the quetsion “ki-neged mi” many rishonim come to assume that everything other than eating and drinking in only derabanan (see tosafot yeshanim on the daf here and the beginning of the chapter).

In addition, the gemara here seeks to proove that drinking falls into the category of eating.

Yoma 76a – The Five Inuyyim


Shoftim 17 to 21 Conclusion and Summary

March 4, 2010

These three concluding shiurim contain a close readings of the last five chapters of the Book of Shoftim – the stories of Micha’s idol and the concubine of Giveah – as well as an attempt to offer a deeper prophetic message to the entire book.

The two concluding narratives describe the decline of the Jewish People into idolatry, murder and immoral sexual behavior.  They violate the three prohibitions for which one is commanded to give up their own life rather than sin.  Ultimately, the book concluded with a civil war and the almost completer decimation of tribe of Benjamin.

What makes these stories even more puzzling is that they (likely) took place at some point near the beginning of the period of the Shoftim.  The grandsons of Moshe and Aharon are still alive, so presumably these events took place some time soon after the death of Joshua.

The Book of Shoftim clearly sets up the framework in which the Jewish People need a strong centralized government.  It is Chana and then ultimately Shmuel who steps into that gap and brings about  political, religious and educational reform.  There was one point in the period of the Shoftim in which we could have had a king – the Shofet Gidon has the potential to unify the Jewish People and perhaps bring order to where there was chaos.

The audio was divided into three parts.

Shoftim 17 – 18 Micha’s Idol

Shoftim 19 – 21 Concubine of Giveah

Shoftim – Summary Prophetic Message of the Book