Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

A Theme: Second Son Takes Precedence

Interesting - while the 'laws of inheritance' stated that the first son was the one to inherit the family responsibilities... and the wealth, throughout the Torah it is the second son who take precedence.

Very interesting observation in this week's Torah study class.

And this is a recurring theme in the Torah:

Cain and Able depicts a struggle between brothers, Isaac is Abraham's second son, Jacob precedes Esau in receiving his father's blessing although he is the younger son, Joseph is a younger son and a favorite while Ruben did not get prominent family leadership, Jacob blessed Ephriam the younger of Joseph's sons with his right hand, and even into the time of the Kings - David appointed Solomon to succeed him over his older sons.

Interesting then that the 'law' in Deuteronomy 21:15-17 deals with protection of inheritance to the elder son even if he is the child of the less favored wife. This is a 'moot' point now where polygamy is not accepted... but maybe not since multiple sequential marriages are not so uncommon. It does emphasize that one is not to favor the younger child or to favor the child of a favorite wife.

But the Biblical examples show otherwise... hmmmmm...... In all the examples sited there is a 'story' as to why the younger son took precedence - and the next part may go into one of the reasons ... the belligerent son...

(I will be away for the next 2 weeks so someone please take notes and send me a tidbit to add to the blog!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Themes in Deuteronomy

Interesting reflection this week on the overall themes of Deuteronomy:

Power Differentials
  • Relation of those with more power to those without power.
  • Relation of the strong vs the weak
  • Relation of the rich vs the poor
  • Relation of man vs animals


    Self Restraint
  • Look at others and the world around you
  • Go beyond the "I want" and empathize with others
  • Respect for life and compassion for others

    Summary of Deuteronomy Themes

    We are reading Deuteronomy 21
    here is a 'summary':
    Ki Tetze Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19

    There are seventy-two commandments in Ki Tetze, the largest number in any Torah portion. Topics covered include marriage and divorce, defiant children, fair weights and measures and charity for the poor. At the end of the sidra we are instructed to "blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."

    Here is a good commentary:
    Reflection of Ki Tetze

    After reading this one I am REALLY looking forward to the next few weeks in Torah Study (too bad I am going to miss 2 while I am away)
  • Saturday, December 03, 2005

    Capture her - Change her apperance - Let her mourn - Marry her or not

    Deuteronomy 21:10 - 14

    You really don't love her... or do you?
    This link is interesting interpretation and connection to the problems of assimilation and interfaith marriages...

    Change her appearance:
    Why cut the hair and 'do' nails? (not clear if that means cut them off or let them grow)
    1. It is an act of mourning
    2. To make her unattractive
    3. To show her change of status

    An interesting set of directions for how to treat the captured woman who "captures" the soldiers' desires.

    Let her mourn for the traditional 30 days:
    As in Numbers 20:29 when Moses mourned for Aaron for 30 days - and it is noted again in Deuteronomy 33 when Moses dies.
    But another thought is that in the 30 day period after capture you would know if she was pregnant by another or not.

    And then there is the option to marry her or set her free:
    OK so at the end of the 30 days he may still want her OR maybe he decides that she isn't as great as he once thought.
    So the decision would be either marry her or set her free.... but he cannot sell her into slavery or treat her as property at that time.

    OVERALL there are several interpretations:
    -per Rashi - it is not good to focus on physical characteristics for a good marriage.
    -there are long term ramifications to war and the responses to victory and the ethical values of life away from war must be enforced even during war.

    This portion starts the transition to family laws in Torah.... so there will be more on this...

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Jacob's Tradition

    Traditions are very important to us.... this is why I do the TraditionsRenewed website to collect traditions.

    These are the weeks to think about Jacob as we are reading about him in Torah...

    So my tradition for this time of year is to make Jacob's stew - you know the one he used to barter for his brother's birthright?

    I wanted to share my recipe - if anyone has another good recipe for this - please add it to the comments....

    Jacob's Vegetarian Lentil Stew
    1 Tablespoon margarine or butter
    1 onion, chopped
    3 carrots, diced
    3 stalks celery, diced
    2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    1 cup brown (or red) lentils (picked over and rinsed)
    6 cups of water - or vegetarian broth
    pinch of cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ginger
    1/4 teaspoon cloves
    1 teaspoon cumin - optional
    Melt margarine/butter in large soup pot, saute' onion and garlic. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1-1/2 - 2 hours.

    Enjoy! (Great when be done in the crock pot just put it all in and leave it for all day!)