Torah Portion

Yitro

יתרו

Exodus 18:1-20:23
Isaiah 6:1-7:6 & 9:5-6

The Seraphim

The Seraphim

The image of YHWH accompanied by a heavenly retinue (צבאות) is ubiquitous in the Prophets and the Writings. Uniquely, in Isaiah’s call narrative, YHWH appears before the prophet accompanied by six-winged seraphim. What are these heavenly beings?

Dr.
Richard Lederman
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Judaism's First Converts: A Pagan Priest and a Prostitute

Judaism's First Converts: A Pagan Priest and a Prostitute

Linked by words and acts of chesed (lovingkindness), Jethro and Rahab (a pagan priest and a prostitute) are rabbinic exemplars of true converts.[1]

Dr. Rabbi
David J. Zucker
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Rabbi
Moshe Reiss
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Why Is the Sojourner Listed After the Livestock?

Why Is the Sojourner Listed After the Livestock?

In the list of people who must not work on the Sabbath, the גֵּר “sojourner” or “(resident) alien” appears last, even after the Israelite’s work animals. Is the sojourner’s standing in the Bible lower than livestock? [1] 

Dr.
Shira Golani
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Standing Under Sinai: On the Origins of a Coerced Covenant

Standing Under Sinai: On the Origins of a Coerced Covenant

Tracing the tannaitic and biblical sources for the famous claim that God held Mount Sinai over the Israelites and threatened to bury them if they did not accept the Torah.

Dr.
Tzvi Novick
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Does the Decalogue Prohibit Stealing?

Does the Decalogue Prohibit Stealing?

Generally translated as “do not steal,” the Rabbis make a compelling case for understanding lo tignov in the Decalogue to be a prohibition against the more serious offense of kidnapping, or, in modern terms, human trafficking.

Prof. Rabbi
Jonathan Magonet
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Preserving Multiple Opinions

Preserving Multiple Opinions

From Judges to Tefillin, the Hagaddah to Kol Nidrei – Jewish Tradition has preserved or harmonized different opinions: An idea reflected in Torah as understood by the Documentary Hypothesis

Prof. Rabbi
Jeffrey Tigay
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Judaism Without Sinai?

Judaism Without Sinai?

The Sinai theophany is virtually absent from the Bible outside of the Torah and the very late book of Nehemiah. This absence reflects an alternative tradition that sees Israel’s laws as deriving from multiple small revelations from prophets throughout history. 

Dr. Rabbi
David Frankel
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Do Not Covet: Is It a Feeling or an Action?

Do Not Covet: Is It a Feeling or an Action?

In English, to covet means to desire (someone or something) obsessively, wrongfully, and/or without due regard for the rights/feelings of others. It is a strong emotion, to be avoided. But does “covet” capture the meaning of the Hebrew verb חמד? 

Prof.
Leonard Greenspoon
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The Origins and Use of the 613 Mitzvot

The Origins and Use of the 613 Mitzvot

The development of the idea that the Torah has 613 mitzvot: From Talmudic aggada, to geonic liturgy, to medieval enumerations.

Dr.
Marc Herman
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When the God of Justice Goes Rogue

When the God of Justice Goes Rogue

The haftarah for Parashat Yitro (Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6), which portrays God’s opening revelation to Isaiah in the Temple, perfectly complements the parasha, which focuses on God’s revelation to Israel on Mount Sinai. But whereas the Sinai revelation portrays YHWH as the God of justice, the revelation to Isaiah paints a very different portrait, bringing up the uestion: What should we do when God goes rogue?

Prof.
Marvin A. Sweeney
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The Oldest Known Copy of the Decalogue?

The Oldest Known Copy of the Decalogue?

A careful examination of the three oldest copies of the Decalogue—4QDeutn, 4QPaleoExodusm, and the Nash Papyrus—surprisingly shows that none of them reflects the Masoretic Text.

Dr.
Esther Eshel
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Source Criticism Enhances Our Acceptance of the Torah

Source Criticism Enhances Our Acceptance of the Torah

Traditional commentators endued certain Torah references with midrashic or esoteric purport in an effort to counteract those who mocked them. But in so doing, they were conceding the mockers’ evaluation of these texts as being, prima facie, inconsequential. Fortunately, source criticism helps us accept these texts without discomfort, obviating the compulsion to interpret them away.

Dr. Hacham
Isaac S. D. Sassoon
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Yitro

יתרו

Exodus 18:1-20:23

וְהַר סִינַי עָשַׁן כֻּלּוֹ מִפְּנֵי אֲשֶׁר יָרַד עָלָיו יְ-הוָה בָּאֵשׁ

שמות יט:יח

Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke, for YHWH had come down upon it in fire

Exodus 19:18

Exodus

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