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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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Metaphor - Power of the Image

Review of last Classes:

Yes we are still on Chapter 32 in Deuteronomy – but it seems like ages since the last time I summarized my notes!

Last week we heard some amazing things from the bimah that made up for the week off from our class.

On 9/8 we focused on the poetry and the technique of parallelism that is used in this ancient poem.
There was reference to a book by Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Poetry
One quote I noted from the session: “Once you study Torah it becomes incorporated into your life.”

We reflected on the metaphor of Torah to rain and water as life giving.

AND we discussed the ‘call and response’ format in our prayers as it relates to this portion and within our current liturgy. This mechanism will facilitate internal contemplation in a way that other formats do not.

Techniques to make our observation more participatory include this call and response and the ‘power of song’ and all of this is incorporated into our practice and enhances our tradition.

On 9/15 we continued the discussion on the POEM in Chapter 32 with a focus on a different metaphor. “THE ROCK” which is noted many times in many different ways throughout the Bible. Samson Raphael Hirsch used this metaphor to illustrate the everlasting support of Israel. The land will always be there and will not vanish. This is the guarantor of existence forever.

Again we referred to the tradition of standing when we say “Tzur Yisrael” in the prayer just before the Amidah – Tzur is a special word for rock – very old archaic form of the word – it implies a special, older and more significant way of saying “Rock of Israel”.

A powerful quote on rocks, "The great rocks of Yosemite, expressing qualities of timeless, yet intimate grandeur, are the most compelling formations of their kind. We should not casually pass them by for they are the very heart of the earth speaking to us." Ansel Adams, Photographer. (see photo above)

We started to move on to a discussion of a “Just and Righteous God” which was a good place to end before the observation Yom Kippur.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Shana Tova

listen to shofar

Greetings for the Holiday: (thanks to )

L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu
Literal Hebrew to English Translation: May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year
Meaning: This Rosh HaShanah greeting wishes others a good year and a good judgment by God.
Note: This greeting is often shortened to Shanah Tovah (Good Year).
Gemar Chatimah Tovah
Literal Hebrew to English Translation: May you finally be sealed (in the Book of Life) for good.
Meaning: This greeting wishes others well in the new year.
Use: This greeting is used between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Yom Tov
Literal Hebrew to English Translation: Good Day
Meaning: Holiday
Use: On holidays, Jews often greet each other with "Gut Yuntiff", which is Yiddish for “Good Yom Tov” or “Good holiday."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Poem!

Deuteronomy 32 – The Poem

The poem is written and read with ‘heaven and earth’ as witnesses – it will exist forever! It is an Eternal Truth.

this is a picture of the poem format in a 15th Century Pentateuch:
San’a Pentateuch, Yemen, 1469 The poem Give Ear; Deuteronomy 32. BL Or. MS 2348, ff.151v-152
Copyright © The British Library Board
link to see more:

And the poem begins – The format of the written poem is always in 2 columns. Two halves with a relation to each other.

There is a distinct rhythm to the Hebrew reading with repeated sounds. And there are repeated parallel phrases:

Give ear || Hear
Speak || Utter of the mouth

Discourse come down as the rain || Speech distill as dew
Like showers || Like droplets

Metaphors that add visualization to the rhythm and give the poem memorable imagery.

Reference to God as “The Rock!” beginning a section to describe God’s Greatness.
The image of a rock is connected to many details in our tradition. The rock is sturdy, it is lasting, it represents the core of our world and also is something we can stand on. An image that is repeated many times in Torah.

And there are other terms that only appear once a hapax legomenon - (I need to find the specific one that was mentioned last week)

Thanks Pete for this link: