UI 076: God and His 13 Attributes

This episode is a podcast featuring a class I recently taught on the book of Exodus.  In this particular class we focused on Exodus 33:21 -34:7. Exodus 33 (NIV) 21Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23Then I will remove my hand and you will … [Read more...]

Parsha Ki Teitzei: A Loved Wife, a Hated Wife, and the Firstborn Son?

This week we read parsha Ki Teitzei (Ki Tetzei, Ki Tetse, Ki Thetze, Ki Tese, Ki Tetzey, or Ki Seitzei) which means "When/If you go..."  Ki Teitzei consists of  Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19.  You can read a brief summary here.   Parsha Ki Teitzei is riddled with laws and rulings.  There are 74 of the 613 laws given in just this parsha.  Since I wrote about the captive woman last time, this … [Read more...]

Parsha Shoftim: The Asherah Hypothesis

This week we read parsha Shoftim (Shofetim or Shof'tim) which means "judges."  Shoftim consists of  Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9.  You can find a very brief summary here. Just before parsha Shoftim begins we read at the end of parsha Eikev, that the Lord instructs us to observe Holy festivals - concluding with the command to be joyous on Sukkot. Deuteronomy 16 (NIV): 13Celebrate the Festival of … [Read more...]

UI 066: Would the World be Better Without Religion?

While having discussions among friends I've hearing a recurring theme. "Religion is the cause of much of the evil in our world." When I ask them to elaborate and give examples, they come up with the most obvious first: Radical Islam:  ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, Iran, Al-Qaeda, on and on. Okay, so lets move beyond the low hanging fruit. Any non-Muslim examples? Answer: "Sure. … [Read more...]

Parsha Re’eh: You Can’t Have it Your Way

This week we read parsha Re'eh (Reeh, R'eih, or Ree) which means "see."  Re'eh consists of Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17.  You can read a very brief summary here. Deutoronomy 12:8  You are not to do as we do here today, everyone doing as they see fit,... Again we find there is nothing new about humanity.  3,500 years ago people wanted to simply do what felt good to them.  God (who brought them out of … [Read more...]

Parsha Devarim: We Still Need Corrective Vision

This week we read parsha Devarim (D’varim, or Debarim) which means "words."  Parsha Devarim consists of Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22.  You can read a brief summary here. Deuteronomy 1:1 1 These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on the other side of the Jordan, in the desert, in the Arava, opposite Suf, between Paran, and Tofel, and Lavan, and Hazerot, and Di-Zahav  From Chabad: According to … [Read more...]

Parsha Matot: God Ordered Genocide?

This week we read parsha Matot (Mattot, Mattoth, or Matos) which means "tribes".   Matot consists of  Numbers 30:2–32:42.  You can read a brief summary here. Parsha Matot provides ammunition for those who wish to dismiss or attack the Torah (and God) as barbaric and cruel.   The reference is usually in relation to the episode regarding the vengeance on Midian, and supposedly God ordered … [Read more...]

Parsha Pinchas: Zealotry… What does that even mean?

This week we read parsha Pinchas (Pinechas, Phineas, Pinhas, or Pin’has) which is the name of Aaron's grandson (presumably a name of Egyptian origin.)  Pinchas consists of Numbers 25:10–30:1.  You can read a very brief summery here. "Pinchas" picks up where "Balak" left off. Israelites are whoring themselves to Moabite women which led to them engaging in idol worship and attaching themselves … [Read more...]

Parsha Chukat: Ritual Detergent with Paradoxical Scrubbing Bubbles

This week we read parsha Chukat  (Hukath or Chukkas) which is usually translated as "laws" or "decrees", but I prefer translating Chok as a "law between God and man (a.k.a. Holiness code).  For more information on that matter please read an older column I wrote here.  Chukat consists of  Numbers 19:1–22:1.  You can find a brief summary here. Chukat begins telling us about the pariah adumah "red … [Read more...]

Parsha Sh’lach: Trust but Verify?

This week we read Sh'lach (Shlach, Shelach, Sh'lah, Shlach Lecha, or Sh’lah L’kha) which means "send”, “send to you”, or "send for yourself".  Parsha Sh'lach consists of Numbers 13:1–15:41.  You can read a very brief summary here.   Numbers 13 (NIV) 1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send … [Read more...]