Thursday, February 03, 2011

Parsha puzzles: Out of the blue

I knew there was something that I forgot to mention when I discussed Parshat Terumah yesterday: Where did this "ephod" thing come from, all of a sudden? What is it, or, better yet, why are we expected to know what it is without any explanation, since, to the best of my recollection, this is the first time it's been mentioned? And a breastplate? Vus is dus/mah zeh/what's that, and for whom or what? (See Exodus, chapter 25, verse 7.)

While we're at it, who's this Yehoshua/Joshua fellow who suddenly shows up out of a clear blue in Exodus, chapter 17, verse 9, at the end of Parshat Beshallach? Never heard of him before.


Anonymous Mike said...

Theres no requirement that the Torah give an introduction to things or people before it starts talking about them. It doesn't follow the rules of English literature.

There is also a klal that "ein mukdam u'meuchar baTorah", there is no before & after in the Torah, i.e. it is not subject to chronological constraints. Rashi even says on the very first sentence of Bereishis that the Torah should have started with the the first mitzva, "HaChodesh hazeh lachem Rosh Chadashim". Afterwards later on it could have told of the creation. That would be a huge step outside of chronological or even logical literary constructs.
Further proof that the Torah is not a history book.

Thu Feb 03, 02:32:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"There's no requirement . . . "

True, but it might make things easier.

"There's also a klal . . . "

Let me brush off my limited knowledge of Jewish texts:

Per the Rabbi Yishmael Omer quote that appears very early in Shacharit/Morning Service, "klal" = general principle (?).

"HaChodesh hazeh lachem Rosh Chadashim" "This month is for you the Head of Months"--the reference is to what we now call Nisan (originally Aviv?), the month in which Pesach takes place.

In the future, translations would be appreciated. Not all of us are yeshiva grads. I'm certainly not one.

"the first mitzva"

I thought the first mitzvah was "P'ru u-r'vu, Be fruitful and multiply."

"ein mukdam u'meuchar baTorah", there is no before & after in the Torah, i.e. it is not subject to chronological constraints."

I always thought that that general principal was a rather convenient explanation after the fact. Of course, what does it matter whether an explanation comes after the fact when there are no chronological restraints anyway. :)

Thu Feb 03, 04:23:00 PM 2011  
Anonymous Mike said...

The first mitzva given to us as a nation is what Rashi (and I) meant. The mitzvah itself was not Pesach, it was the "rosh Chadashim" part, ie to have a calendar on the lunar cycle, with Nisan as the first month and all the subsequent holidays that followed, and to do the whole new month thing (the witnessing the moon, the signaling, the official announcement of the new month, etc.)
Im not saying there is no explanation, just that its not as troubling as you make it sound that something is out of order or that suddenly Joshua or an ephod appear.

Thu Feb 03, 04:42:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

What can I say, Mike. I don't always appreciate surprises. :)

Thu Feb 03, 05:07:00 PM 2011  

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