Guide Shemot: Defining a Nation (Torah Lights Book 2)

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Exodus Chapter 1 presents the historical setting: In any definition of an individual, a group, or a nation, there are at least two points of view: The external definition of the people of Israel has generally been negative perhaps excluding the story of Balaam , and throughout most of history this definition has not only been negative, but also anti-Semitic.

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Since time immemorial, Jew-haters have baited us for being different in our faith and for our stubbornness in maintaining our ways even under the most difficult physical conditions. Needless to say, the painful history and tremendous suffering that our people experienced and the dreadful loss of many of its sons and daughters, culminating in the Holocaust of the Jews of Europe and the slaughter of six million Jews, which we survived only by a miracle — all this served to unite the people and strengthen its sense of distinction.

To that end one needs, first and foremost, an internal definition. Let us follow the course of the first mission assigned to Moses by the Holy One, blessed be He, in order to liberate the Israelites from Egypt: The Almighty opens with the following: G-d of our Fathers. The Sages, recognizing this identifying characteristic, established for subsequent generations the three amidah prayers recited each day by devout Jews, beginning with the words: Let us follow further the specific instructions given Moses for carrying out the mission of the Holy One, blessed be He: Of particular interest is the fact that Moses, the great leader, failed in his first mission.

Pharaoh was not slow to detect the nationalist approach taken by Moses, and on the spot he tried to challenge the source of the new identity of the people of Israel that was being drawn by Moses: Later, too, Pharaoh used the same tactics. Pharaoh understood that Moses was retreating from the nationalist definition, but did not accept this ploy: Get to your labors! That is, Pharaoh stood by his definition of the Hebrews as a people, and viewed them and their leaders as a threat.

Moses returned, understanding that he had failed, and lay his complaint before the Holy One, blessed be He: Why did You send me? Interestingly, the response of the Holy One, blessed be He, makes no mention of the people of Israel. Note, Pharaoh will let them go, even though they have not yet been defined.

How did this tension between Moses and the Holy One, blessed be He, come about? Again, the historical beginnings of the people are noted: I am the Lord. They are written using a painstakingly careful methodology by highly qualified scribes. This has resulted in, according to B. Barry Levy, "The popular assumption that no changes were ever introduced into copies of the Bible during rabbinic times. The fidelity of the Hebrew text of the Tanakh, and the Torah in particular, is considered paramount, down to the last letter: An error of a single letter, ornamentation, or symbol of the , stylized letters that make up the Hebrew Torah text renders a Torah scroll unfit for use, hence a special skill is required and a scroll takes considerable time to write and check.

According to Jewish law, a sefer Torah plural: Sifrei Torah is a copy of the formal Hebrew text handwritten on gevil or klaf forms of parchment by using a quill or other permitted writing utensil dipped in ink. Written entirely in Hebrew , a sefer Torah contains , letters, all of which must be duplicated precisely by a trained sofer "scribe" , an effort that may take as long as approximately one and a half years. Most modern Sifrei Torah are written with forty-two lines of text per column Yemenite Jews use fifty , and very strict rules about the position and appearance of the Hebrew letters are observed.

See for example the Mishnah Berurah on the subject. The completion of the sefer Torah is a cause for great celebration, and it is a mitzvah for every Jew to either write or have written for him a Sefer Torah. Aron in Hebrew means "cupboard" or "closet", and kodesh is derived from "kadosh", or "holy". The Book of Ezra refers to translations and commentaries of the Hebrew text into Aramaic , the more commonly understood language of the time. These translations would seem to date to the 6th century BCE. The Aramaic term for translation is Targum. At an early period, it was customary to translate the Hebrew text into the vernacular at the time of the reading e.

The targum "translation" was done by a special synagogue official, called the meturgeman Eventually, the practice of translating into the vernacular was discontinued.

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However, there is no suggestion that these translations had been written down as early as this. There are suggestions that the Targum was written down at an early date, although for private use only. The official recognition of a written Targum and the final redaction of its text, however, belong to the post-Talmudic period, thus not earlier than the fifth century C. One of the earliest known translations of the first five books of Moses from the Hebrew into Greek was the Septuagint.

The Greek version's name in Latin is the Septuagint: It was named Septuagint from the traditional number of its translators. It contains both a translation of the Hebrew and additional and variant material. Later translations into Greek include seven or more other versions. These do not survive, except as fragments, and include those by Aquila , Symmachus , and Theodotion. Early translations into Latin—the Vetus Latina —were ad hoc conversions of parts of the Septuagint.

From the eighth century AD, the cultural language of Jews living under Islamic rule became Arabic rather than Aramaic. The best known was produced by Saadiah , and continues to be in use today, "in particular among Yemenite Jewry". The Torah has been translated by Jewish scholars into most of the major European languages, including English, German, Russian, French, Spanish and others.

The most well-known German-language translation was produced by Samson Raphael Hirsch. A number of Jewish English Bible translations have been published.

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As a part of the Christian biblical canons , the Torah has been translated into hundreds of languages. Jesus himself emphasized the Law of Moses, [50] saying that whoever believed in Moses' writings would also believe Jesus' words: Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings Torah , how shall ye believe my words? It [ clarification needed ] was regarded as the standard form of the "Old Testament" in the early Greek Christian Church and is still considered canonical in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

While Christianity includes the five books of Moses the Pentateuch among their sacred texts in its " Old Testament ", Islam states that only the original Torah was sent by God. In neither religion does the Torah retain the religious legal significance that it does in Orthodox Judaism. The Quran refers heavily to Moses to outline the truth of his existence and the religious guidelines that God had revealed to the Children of Israel. Muslims call the Torah the Tawrat and consider it the word of God given to Moses. However, Muslims also believe that this original revelation was corrupted tahrif or simply altered by the passage of time and human fallibility over time by Jewish scribes [54] and hence do not revere the present "Jewish version" Torah as much 7: The Torah in the Quran is always mentioned with respect in Islam.

The Muslims' belief in the Torah, as well as the prophethood of Moses, is one of the fundamental tenets of Islam. These three versions differ greatly, one from another, even with regard to the lifetimes of the most celebrated figures. In the Hebrew Torah, it is recorded that from Noah's flood until the birth of Abraham there was an interval of two hundred and ninety-two years.

In the Greek, that time span is given as one thousand and seventy-two years, while the Samaritan, the recorded span is nine hundred and forty-two years. Refer to the commentary by Henry Westcott for tables are supplied therein which show the discrepancies among the three Torahs as to the birth dates of a number of the descendants of Shem, and thou wilt see how greatly the versions differ from one another. Moreover, according to the text of the Hebrew Torah, from the creation of Adam until Noah's flood the elapsed time is recorded as one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years, while in the Greek Torah the interval is given as two thousand two hundred and sixty-two years, and in the Samaritan text, the same period is said to have lasted one thousand three hundred and seven years.

Reflect now over the discrepancies among these three Torahs. The case is indeed surprising. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Torah disambiguation.

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Tanakh Torah Nevi'im Ketuvim. Authorship Dating Hebrew canon.

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Pauline epistles Petrine epistles. Hermeneutics Pesher Midrash Pardes. For other uses, see Pentateuch disambiguation. Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy. Mosaic authorship and Documentary hypothesis. Biblical law in Christianity and Development of the Old Testament canon. Torah in Islam and Islamic—Jewish relations. The Emergence of Judaism. Westminster John Knox Press. The Torah may also refer to the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures The Torah furthermore covers instruction in two media, writing and memory But there is more: An introduction to the first five books of the Bible.

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Torah Lights - Shemot: Defining a Nation – Rabbi Shlomo Riskin (Hardcover)

Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Macmillan Reference USA, An Introduction to the Old Testament , ed. Merrill, Mark Rooker, Michael A. Grisanti, , p, The Term "Pentateuch" derives from the Greek pentateuchos , literally, The fascinating design of the Jewish Bible". A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in Its Context. Oxford University Press, Retrieved 27 February A Very Short Introduction.

The Jewish Study Bible.

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The History of its Interpretation, II: From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Retrieved 18 September Contributions and Limitations , Ed. Legends of the Jews Vol II: Legends of the Jews Vol I: The first things created Translated by Henrietta Szold Philadelphia: A Better Way to Read Torah? Archived at the Wayback Machine. Barry Levi, Fixing God's Torah: Constructing Biblical Israel's Identity , Continuum, , p. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Sa'adia's own major contribution to the Torah is his Arabic translation, Targum Tafsir.

Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry: Controversy exists among scholars as to whether Rasag was the first to translate the Hebrew Bible into Arabic. Bandstra, Barry L Reading the Old Testament: Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts. Treasures old and new: Sources of the Pentateuch: Carr, David M Reading the fractures of Genesis. Clines, David A The theme of the Pentateuch. Friedman, Richard Elliot Kugler, Robert; Hartin, Patrick The Old Testament between theology and history: Levin, Christoph L