As I type this blog, we enter the final hours before the onset of Shavuot. In the hours to come Jews around the world will celebrate receiving the written and oral Torahs thousands of years ago on Sinai. The revelation continues to this day, as each generation makes the decision to accept, wrestle with, engage with and embrace Torah.
Throughout time we have studied and learned Torah with the tools at hand – our minds, our bodies, scrolls, books, computer screens and social media. Over the past 24 hours Jews throughout the world have tweeted about Torah. Read some of the tweets by clicking this link which searches for Torah related tweets.
May your celebration be sweet and filled with the miracles of Sinai.
One of the things which I love about my work is the chance to literally and metaphorically bring people close to Torah. I love teaching and empowering men and women of all ages to chant from Torah, bringing to life the words, grammar, nuances, feelings and radiance from the text. As we breathe the texts into our lungs and out through our vocal cords the text comes live. A challenge, a blessing and a guide for our lives.
The ability to express the text is connected to the art of clearly and beautifully scribing the words of Torah onto parchment. It is such a loving, intense, beautiful task that it is only done by soferim/soferot who radiate Torah and study the art.
Today while reading Velveteen Rabbi’s blog day post I learned of a female soferet named Aviel Barclay-Rothschild. She blogs about her work, describing it as follows:
As the only living certified Soferet (female Jewish ritual scribe) & the first woman to practice sofrut (creation of sacred Hebrew texts) in over 200 years, I feel an obligation to blog about my experiences of The Work.
You can learn more about her in her blog and her website, Soferet.
May words of Torah, words of world wisdom, and words of your faith dance on your tongue and radiate through your body with every breath.
Salaam, my friends.
This week’s Torah portion is Mattot, the penultimate portion in Numbers. Mattot includes instructions on and lists of vows. The vows we utter, the words we say all have power. How does Judaism encurage us to think about our words? Here are links to commentaries which address this question as it resonates from our parashah (portion).
My Word by Rabbi Andrea Lerner of the University of Wisconsin Hillel Foundation.
Rabbi Rebecca Gutterman examines vows Broken & Made.
Rav Kook writes about vows and their impact on our emotions and intellect in his drash Mattot, Keeping Vows.
Go and Study!
Wishing all shalom, salaam, peace.
Here is another daf yomi site – Yeshivah University Torah Online
More and more women are engaging in serious Torah study. Quite a few are even participating in daf yomi.
The Jerusalem Post has a story on women studying daf yomi and the controversy and various opinions which this issue raises.
In honor of today’s siyyum of the 7-year cycle of daf yomi (daily study of a page of Talmud) I am posting some new links for Torah study. They appear in this post and in the margin where appropriate. (Thanks to Temple Sholom in Eau Clarie for many of the links.)
Daf Yomi Advancement Forum
Torah & Tanach
Targum Onqelos on the Torah with parallel Hebrew and Aramaic text (Mechon Mamre).
Tikkun Korim (Unvocalized text as in the sefer Torah (Mechon Mamre).
Genealogies of People in the Tanach (ORT)
Reference on People and Places in the Torah (ORT)
Rabbinic & Medieval Texts
Four of the Major Sources of Oral Torah – Hebrew (Mishnah, Talmud Bavli Talmud Yerushalmi and Tosefta from Machon Mamre).
Talmud Bavli in English (Under construction.)
Rashi Study Source>
Rambam’s Mishneh Torah with Parallel Hebrew/English text (Mechon Mamre).
Seforim Online, a Source for Many Texts.
General Study Resources
As the sages said – Zil G’mor – Go and Study!
Hello. This week’s Torah portion is Ki Tisa, a text which includes the infamous story of the golden calf followed chapters later by the second giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Much has been written about this text in modern day and throughout the ancient and mideival commentaries. Rather than posting one commentary this week, I am going to link to a website with nine differnt articles, My Jewish Learning commetaries and text discussions for Ki Tisa. The list of online articles includes:
Go Down, Moses! by Rabbi Andrea Lerner
The Idol Of Complacency by Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger
Up And Down The Mountain Of Life by Jennifer Werby
Tzedakah And Jewish Education by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
Negotiating A Relationship With God by Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses
Transformative Power by Ismar Schorsch
Veiling And Unveiling by Rabbi Aaron Mehlman
Our Golden Calf: When Tzedakah Is Not Righteous by Rabbi Dan Bronstein
Positive Communal Action by Laura Safran
Go and Learn!
This week’s parashah is Tetzaveh and opens with the instruction to create an ever-burning light in the Tent of Meeting. This becomes the ner tamid, the eternal light.
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson of the University of Judaism has written a powerful commentary on this symbol and its connection to Torah and Judaism in our lives. Amongst his words is the citation of a midrash, a commentary on the text.
The Midrash continues: “Just see how the words of the Torah give forth light to those who study them…. Those who study Torah give forth light wherever they may be. It is like standing in the dark with a lamp in hand; when you see a stone, you don’t stumble, nor do you fall into a gutter because you have a lamp in hand…. God said, ‘Let My lamp be in your hand and your lamp in My hand.’ What is the lamp of God? The Torah.
In our day, then, the lamp of God is the rich teachings of the Torah. God shines that light into the world, illumining the pitfalls and stumbling-blocks along the way. Through the guidance and discipline of the mitzvot, God offers us a path of sanity, profundity, and morality.
Read the entire piece.
Go and Learn!