Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Parshat Yitro, 5773/2013 thoughts

Basics here.

Sh'mot/Exodus chapter 19:

ג וּמֹשֶׁה עָלָה, אֶל-הָאֱלֹ-ים; וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו ----, מִן-הָהָר לֵאמֹר, כֹּה תֹאמַר לְבֵית יַעֲקֹב, וְתַגֵּיד לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. 3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying: 'Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:

ד אַתֶּם רְאִיתֶם, אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי לְמִצְרָיִם; וָאֶשָּׂא אֶתְכֶם עַל-כַּנְפֵי נְשָׁרִים, וָאָבִא אֶתְכֶם אֵלָי. 4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto Myself.

The origin of two traditions comes from these verses.  One is that, according to rabbinic interpretation, Bet Yaakov/The House of Jacob refers to the women, B'nei Yisrael/The Children of Israel to the men.  The other is the tradition that G-d bore us on eagles' wings.

Chapter 20

יד וְכָל-הָעָם רֹאִים אֶת-הַקּוֹלֹת וְאֶת-הַלַּפִּידִם, וְאֵת קוֹל הַשֹּׁפָר, וְאֶת-הָהָר, עָשֵׁן; וַיַּרְא הָעָם וַיָּנֻעוּ, וַיַּעַמְדוּ מֵרָחֹק. 14 And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off.

"Perceived," my foot!  The Hebrew clearly says "saw"!  What's the matter, these people have never heard of synesthesia?

Chapter 23

A maximalist source for Zionism:

לא וְשַׁתִּי אֶת-גְּבֻלְךָ, מִיַּם-סוּף וְעַד-יָם פְּלִשְׁתִּים, וּמִמִּדְבָּר, עַד-הַנָּהָר: כִּי אֶתֵּן בְּיֶדְכֶם, אֵת יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ, וְגֵרַשְׁתָּמוֹ, מִפָּנֶיךָ. 31 And I will set thy border from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness unto the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.

That's good news and/or bad news, depending on your perspective.

"•Having been born and raised in the 20th century, I can't help but be irked by the fact that the text depicts Moshe/Moses apparently spending hours yacking with his father-in-law, but doesn't say a single word about his reunion with his wife and kids.
. . .

•Funny, G-d never said anything about "not coming near a woman" while await the giving of the law. Moshe's a sexist."

"My husband and I are both intrigued by the mystery (to us) of the origins of Jewish Sabbath observance. Though the name Shabbat may be related to the Babylonian bad-luck day-of-rest Shabbatum (here's an explanation, of sorts), the notion of a joyful day of rest seems to have originated with the Jewish People, but the details seem to have been lost in the mists of time. . . .  The whole notion (see chapter 20, verses 7-10 in Parshat Yitro) seems to have sprung up after (during?) our years of slavery in Mitzrayim/Egypt. No matter the origin, I've said for years that the idea of a weekly day of rest is one of the Jewish People's greatest contributions to the human race.

. . .
I should also note that Haftarat Yitro (for Ashkenazim), Isaiah 6:1–7:6 & 9:5–6, contains that phrase made famous by Handel's Messiah ("For unto us a child is born . . .") Our Christian neighbors just translate it differently. They translate "Kel gibor" as, "A mighty G-d," whereas, in this context (which is as a person's name), we would translate it "Mighty is G-d." To them, the child is G-d, whereas, to us, the child's name honors G-d. To say that that's a huge difference in understanding the text is an understatement. That's what happens when the presence tense of the verb "to be" is absent in a language--you either infer "to be's" presence or you don't, and your decision can change your understanding of a text completely. :("

"What an unexpected word I found in verses 22 and 24.

Cohanim (Priests)?!

What Cohanim?!!!

Aharon/Aaron and his sons hadn't been appointed yet!

Yet HaShem Himself gave these instructions!

Who were these priests? How were they chosen? What manner of worship and/or service(s) did they lead and/or provide? How were they compensated? And, as long as HaShem mentioned it specifically (see verse 22), in what manner did they "come near the Lord," and how did they sanctify themselves?"


AnecDatum said...

Rashi (apparently citing the Gemara in Zevachim 115b) says these were the first-borns, who were originally intended to have the job of kohen. (Recall that we just recently read about the 'exchange' of first-borns for Levi'im/Levites.) Avraham Ibn Ezra and Rashbam agree with Rashi.

Rashi and Ramban both state that their "coming close" was to offer korbanot/sacrifices. Ibn Ezra says that it means they would stand closest to the edge of the boundary [around Har Sinai], but also says that these first-borns brought korbanot, (specifically, on the mizbe'ach/altar that Moshe built after the war with Amalek, and the one he built near Har Sinai ("וַיִּשְׁלַח, אֶת-נַעֲרֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיַּעֲלוּ, עֹלֹת; וַיִּזְבְּחוּ זְבָחִים שְׁלָמִים, לַה'--פָּרִים. And he sent the young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings of oxen unto the LORD.").)

Even in mid-move, Conservadox manages to post.


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