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Parashat Ha’Azinu | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Amanda Gluckich – Milk and Honey Farm – Boulder, CO In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Ha’Azinu, we learn that the people of Israel, who have been wandering the desert for forty years after leaving Egypt, are about to enter the Holy Land that has been promised to them by God. Moses, who is not allowed to continue into the Holy Land due to previous transgressions, is preparing to sing a song to the people of Israel. The Torah portion, or parsha, is virtually entirely made up of song verses. Moses’s song speaks of the intergenerational tragedies and triumphs of the people of Israel, and even articulates the future to some degree. Moses sings of the people of Israel’s many struggles to accept one God, and of all of the things that God has done for them throughout the generations. Moses’s song brings everyone together and up to speed to explain why they are currently in the place they are in: about to be metaphorically born into the Land of Israel, promised to them by God. Moses begins: “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!” (Deut. 32:1). When reading […]

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The Unity and Purposefulness of Creation

By Rabbi Gavriel Weinberg Tu b’Shevat is an appropriate time to appreciate the greatness of Creation, and to honor it. We read in the third chapter of Pirke Avot (Chapters of the Fathers) a mishna that symbolizes the essence of the Torah’s regard for the purposefulness of all God’s creation. Ben Azai would be accustomed to say: He used to say, Despise not any man, and carp not at any thing; for thou wilt find that there is not a man that has not his hour, and not a thing that has not its place. (Translation by Charles Taylor) The mishna can be divided naturally into two subjects: Regard for essential purposefulness of any human being and that of anything that is not a human being. The second category, that of non human, has an interesting and peculiar use of the Hebrew language: AL TEHI MAFLEEG LKAL DAVAR. The above classic translation translates the verb MAFLIG as carp (to find fault with). Others translate MAFLEEG as dismissing of any thing. There are many other numerous attempts to translate such a unique word. Even though the numerous translations for the word MAFLEEG give a sensible meaning to the mishna, without a […]

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