parshah vayeira v’shmitta (again)

This week we read Parshah Vayeira, Bereshit 18:1-22:24.

In this portion we learn of hospitality, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife becomes a pillar of salt, Isaac is born and circumcised, Hagar and Ishmael were sent off, the near sacrifice of Isaac, and we learn of the birth of Rebecca. A better summary may be found here.

I’d tell a huge lie if I wrote that I have devoted more time than a quick read through this week. There is a lot in this parshah (as always; I find Bereshit the most interesting of the books of the Torah). I hope tonight and tomorrow to delve a little further in. I’m finding it difficult to strike a balance this month between all the obligations I have committed to.

In skimming through my copy of New Studies in Bereshit by Nechama Leibowitz just now (are you tired of her yet? I am not!) I am drawn to a lesson in which we again compare Noah to Avraham by comparing the differences in approach to “destroying the righteous with the wicked” in light of the flood (in Noah’s time) and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (in Avraham’s). I don’t yet have anything else to add, but think I have found a focus for my additional diving within this sidra^ this week.

^ sidra = another word for parshah.

Lastly, NYT article: Israeli Court Rules on 7th-Year Law.

שׁבּת שׁלום

parshah lech lecha v’shmitta

First, is it August or October? It’s so hot and yucky. We’re not sleeping well, I have to dig out the fan and put it back in (which means the weather will turn tonight, no matter what the forecast says).

This week we learn Parsha Lech Lecha, Bereshit 12:1-17:27. This is quite a busy parsha, as we learn what happens to Abram from the time he “goes [for himself] from [his] land” to the naming of Abraham and Sarah, birth of Yitzhak, and brit milah. Chabad’s summary may be found here as I’ve left out much above.

There is much I could write for this parsha. There is much I want to write. However, I have not prepared as fully as I wish so this will be quite brief. Actually incredibly brief as I can’t figure out where to start.

Anyway, I’ve been negligent this year in mentioning that 5768 is a shmitta year. Incredibly simply, it is that every 7 years the land of Israel gets a sabbatical. Here are a few links:

Hey, I never said it was easy or straight forward! ;) [I’m not saying I agree or follow all links given (nor am I telling you which is which), I’m trying to provide some education to myself and others with varied and interesting (I hope!) viewpoints].

I’m slowly digging through all the blog posts in the various spheres I visit. Thank you for your patience.

שׁבּת שׁלום

parshah noach v’rosh chodesh

This week we read Noach, Bereshit 6:9-11:32, which starts with hashem commanding Noah to build the ark, takes us through those 40 days and 40 nights, and concludes with the ten generations between Noah and Abram [Abraham].

Beginning at the end for a clue as to what to look into this week (and thank one of Nechama’s lessons for inspiration and guidance), let’s compare Noah and Abram. All translations come either from Chabad or my Artscroll w/Rashi (see end for sources). If I were to do the translations you’d get some of the words and I don’t really know tenses very well yet.

First, Noah.

These are the generations of Noah, Noah was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noah walked with God. (Bereshit 6:9)
Then Hashem said to Noah, “… for it is you I have seen to be righteous before Me in this generation”. (Bereshit 7:1)

Now Abram.

And Abram was ninety-nine years old, and God appeared to Abram, and He said to him, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me and be perfect*.
(Bereshit 17:1)

Hmm… Noah walks with Hashem and Abram walks before Him. Regarding * i have perfect, i’ve also seen “whole-hearted”. My Hebrew isn’t good enough to know why there is the difference in translations.

Rashi (if you click those links you can choose “show rashi”) says that Noah needed support to bear him up (thus walking /with/ god) and Abram would strengthen himself (becoming Abraham) and would walk into his righteousness on his own (thus walking before god). In Rashi’s explanation of 17:1, he turns to Onkelos’s translation that walking before God means worship before Me, or cleave to My worship.

So where are we going with this? This is a character comparison. Noah was content to just save his and a limited circle of “own souls”. Abraham would not be content with “just” that (see Sodom and Gomorrah). Looking at Rashi for a bit longer we see that Noah wanted to rise above the corruption of his generation (dor, דור). He needed help. Abraham did not need this assistance and thus could walk before HaShem. I’m not saying Noah was not worthy or bad because he was a little more narrow minded or needed God’s assistance to walk. He was signalled for survival and continuation. Abraham for a mission. Completely different. We’ll learn more of Abram next week in Lech Lecha.

It’s Rosh Chodesh Chesvan today and tomorrow.

Last week I wanted to write about the Tree of Knowledge. In retrospect I’m happy I wasn’t able to because I still don’t feel I can even begin to approach it.

DISCLAIMER & Reminder: I am a lay person with a very incomplete education. These posts are my attempting to puzzle out and learn. If you see something I wrote that is wrong, please help me learn. I just ask that you do so while thinking of what words you chose to tell me “I’m wrong”.

שׁבּת שׁלום

Judaica Press Complete Tanach with Rashi
The Sapirstein Edition of The Torah: Bereshit, student size.
Leibowitz, Nehama and Aryeh Newman (translator). New Studies in Bereshit (Genesis): In the Context of Ancient and Modern Jewish Bible Commentary.