Teruma 5680

Full text available in both Hebrew and English at Chabad.

I probably had a little bit too much to drink. So lets just try and get this done quickly.

God says: Give me all your gold, silver and copper. Blue, purple and crimson wool.

Some fairly complicated instructions on how to build the “arc of the covenant” [see original text]. Acacia wood is important.

Cherubim are also important.

The Law is inside that box. In case your forget. Or are in an argument with your neighbour and need to look something up.

The “Mishkan” is made of “blue, purple and crimson” curtains. These are the colours of Royalty.

The altar is made of Acadia wood. And all the utensils used at the Altar are made of copper.

A lot more infomation about this can be found at the Temple Institute. They have been busy, busy, busy. Just in case the Arabs decide to surrender unconditionally – or something.

Newton, grandfather of Calculus, had a particular obsession with the precise measurements of the Temple. I think only the Freemasons have the original architectural design.

Now you know.

Mishaptim – 5780

Full text available in both Hebrew and English from Chabad.

These are the laws that Israel must follow:

  • You may only enslave a fellow Hebrew for a maximum of 7 years.
  • If your slave marries while you own him, then his wife must also go free when you set him free.
  • The children of the wife, however, will remain slaves.
  • If the slave does not wish to abandon his children, then he may go before the judges of the city and plead his case.
  • By choice, the original slave may “pierce his ear” and remain a slave forever – together with his wife and children.
  • A woman who is sold by her father into (sex) slavery is not automatically released after 7 years.
  • If she is “displeasing to her Lord”, then her master may release her. But he may not “sell her on” to a new master.
  • If the master marries the slave-girl to his son, then she is automatically freed. And becomes the full legal wife of the son.
  • If the master takes a second wife (in addition to the slave-girl). Then he must continue to provide the original slave-girl with food, clothing and shelter.
  • If he neglects to provide his slave-girl with the basic necessities of life then the Judges of the City will set her free.

Make what you will of these laws. That’s just what the Torah says. Remember that this book was written several thousand years ago. The Torah continues:

  • If a man deliberately kills another man [in anger], then the first man shall be put to death.
  • But if a man accidentally kills another man, then there is a city to which he may flee for refuge.
  • One who plots and schemes to kill his friend in cold blood shall be slaughtered on the alter.
  • One who strikes his mother or father shall be put to death.
  • One who kidnaps another and sells him into slavery shall be put to death.
  • One who curses his mother or father should be put to death.

As you can see, parents have a lot of rights under Torah Law. There is no such thing as “child abuse”. Parents may strike or curse their children with impunity.

  • If two men quarrel (with fists) and one becomes bed-ridden on account of his injuries. Then the other must pay “damages”.
  • If a master beats his own slave to death, then he shall be avenged [by the family of the slave]
  • A master is permitted to beat his slave to the point of becoming bed-ridden on account of his injuries. Because the slave is his property. [To whom would the master pay damages?]
  • If a man punches a pregnant woman and she miscarries, then the matter must be taken before the Courts.
  • If a man punches a woman and she dies. Then the man shall be put to death.
  • An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. A hand for a hand. A foot for a foot.
  • A burn for a burn. A wound for a wound. And a bruise for a bruise.
  • If a master damages the eye of a slave (male or female) then he must set that slave free.
  • If a master knocks out the tooth of a slave (male or female) then he must set that slave free.

Basically, you are allowed to beat your slaves “within reason”. Only if they are being lazy, I guess. Probably the best way to get out of being a slave is to pull out one of your own teeth. Which is painful. But maybe better than being a slave.

  • If an animal kills a human (male or female, free or slave) then that animal must be stoned to death. And then not eaten.
  • If the animal was known to be dangerous, and it’s owner acted in a reckless, irresponsible and negligent way, then the owner shall also be punished.
  • If the animal belonging to an irresponsible owner killed a freeman or freewoman then the owner shall be put to death.
  • If the animal belonging to an irresponsible owner killed a slave (male or female), then the owner of the animal shall pay “damages” to the owner of the slave in the form of silver.
  • If a man digs a hole, and animal falls into it and dies. Then he has to pay the owner for the animal. And he gets to keep the dead animal. [I don’t know what he is going to do with it though, since he can’t eat it]
  • If one man’s animal kills another man’s animal. Then they sell the live animal, and split the money. And also split the dead animal. [Maybe they can sell this meat to a non-Jew]
  • If a man steals another man’s animal. Then he must pay back five times the price for a cow. And four times the price for a sheep.

So, now you know how to deal with your neighbour’s misbehaving animals.

  • If you catch a thief breaking into your house, and you kill him. There is no guilt upon you. Your hands are clean.
  • If you catch the thief but don’t kill him. Then he must pay you money.
  • If the thief has no money, then you may sell him as a slave.
  • If the thief is caught later with stolen goods in his posession. Then he must pay back double the value of what he stole.

Now you also know how to deal with thieves.

  • If one man’s animal eats another man’s vinyard or field. Then the owner of the animal must pay damages.
  • If one man starts a fire which burns down another man’s property. Then the man who started the fire must pay damages.
  • If one man gives money or other valuables to another man for safekeeping. And it gets stolen. And the thief is caught. Then the thief must pay twofold.
  • If the thief is not found, then the man who guarding the treasure must swear before a Judge that he doesn’t know what happened to it. And no fine is paid
  • If there is a dispute between two men over the ownership of property. Then the Judges shall decide who owns it. And the loser of the dispute must pay a fine to the declared owner equal to the value of the property under dispute.
  • If one man gives another man an animal for safekeeping. And the animal is injured or dies. Then the man safekeeping the animal shall swear an oath to the Lord that he did nothing negligent or irresponsible. And he is not required to pay any compensation to the owner.
  • If the animal is stolen from the man who was safekeeping it. Then he must he must pay the owner the full value of the animal.
  • If the animal under safekeeping was torn apart by wild beast, then no money needs to be paid to the owner.
  • If a man borrows an animal from his neighbour, and it dies or is injured while in his posession. Then he must pay the owner the full value of the animal.
  • If he hired the animal (for a fee) and the animal is injured or dies while he was using it. Then he does not have to pay.

Probably it is not so common these days to ask our neighbours to take care of our animals while we are away on business. Or to hire or borrow their animals during ploughing or harvesting season. But banks still do this with complex financial derivatives.

  • If a man seduces a virgin (and gets her pregnant) then he must marry her.
  • Unless the father does not want her to marry him. In which case the man must pay a fine to the father.
  • Thou shalt not allow a Sorcerer to live.
  • If a man has sex with an animal then he must be put to death.
  • If an Israelite sacrifices an animal to any other god than the “god of Israel” then he must be put to death.
  • Thou shalt not mistreat or oppress the stranger. For you were a stranger in the Land of Egypt.
  • Though shalt not oppress the widow or the orphan.
  • If the oppressed one cries out to me, then I will surely hear his cry.
  • When my “wrath is kindled” I shall surely slaughter you with the sword. Your wife will become a widow. And your children orphans.

The “feminists” obviously have a problem with the whole “seducing virgins” part of this story. Like you have never been seduced by a virgin.

  • An Israelite may not lend money at interest to another Israelite.
  • You may not take the basic necessities of life from your neighbour as collateral in a loan.
  • You shall not curse a Judge. Neither shall you curse a Prince.
  • You must perform all the ritual sacrifices to the “god of Israel”
  • Your first born son, and the first born of all your animals belong to ME [See the exodus from Egypt story].
  • Non-Kosher meat [from animals which died in the field or were torn apart from wild beasts] must be thrown to the dogs.
  • You are a holy people.
  • You shall not testify falsely before the Courts.
  • Do not “follow the crowd” into evil. Even if they are the majority.
  • Do not “glorify the poor man” in a lawsuit.
  • If you find a stray animal belonging to your neighbour, then return it.
  • If a donkey falls over because it is carrying too much. Then you must help it get up again.
  • Do not “pervert the Justice of the poor” in a lawsuit.
  • Distance yourself from a false matter. And do not kill an innocent man.
  • Do not take bribes.
  • Do not oppress the stranger. Because you understand what it feels like to be a stranger.

It is interesting that while you must not “pervert the Justice of the poor” you also must not “glorify” them. Being poor doesn’t automatically make you morally superior. But the Judge must not “pervert justice” by taking a bribe from the more wealthy party.

  • Every seven years you must let your fields lie fallow.
  • Poor people and wild beasts may eat from the fallow fields.
  • On the seventh day of the week you must rest from all of your earth.
  • Your children and slaves and any foreigners who reside amongst you must also rest. And be refreshed.
  • Do not even say the names of any of the other gods. The words shall not even pass your lips.

Note that the Torah differs from the Qu’ran in that it full acknowledges the existance of other gods. It just forbides the Israelites from worshipping any of them.

  • You must offer animal sacrifice three times a year
  • You must eat “unleaven bread” for seven days on passover. In Spring.
  • The harvest festival of “first fruits”.
  • Three times a year, all male Hebrews must appear before the Lord.
  • Drain all the blood out of an animal before you sacrifice it.
  • Do not boil a kid in it’s mother’s milk.
  • I am sending an angel before you to guide the way.
  • Do not rebel against the angel.
  • I will hate your enemies and oppress your adversaries.
  • The Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivvites, and the Jebusites. I will destroy them.
  • Do not worship the gods of the other Nations which I will destroy. Smash their idols and tear down their temples.
  • Worship the Lord, your god. He will bless your food and drink. And heal all your illnesses.
  • There will be no barren women in your land.
  • I will confuse all of your enemies. [Ancient war technique. Very effective]
  • And I will send the “tzir’ah” before you [??]
  • I will not drive your enemies out all at once. I will drive them out little by little, so that you may be fruitful and multiply, and take over their place.
  • Your boundary shall be from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines. And from the desert to the river.
  • You shall not form a “covenant” with your enemies or with their gods.
  • If you let them dwell in your land, they shall cause you to sin against me, and trick you into worshipping their gods.

And so the 70 elders of Israel went and prostrated themselves before the Lord. A sacrifice was made at the foot of the Mountain. And all Israel swore to do as G-d had spoken. Moses sprinkled the blood of the sacrificed animals onto the children of Israel. This blood shall be a covenant between you and G-d.

Finally G-d calls Moses to ascend the Mountain and receive the stone tablets with the “ten commandments” on them. Moses tells the children of Israel to “wait here, I will be back soon”. And then he disappeared into a cloud at the top of the mountain.

G-d told Moses that when he takes the “census” of the Israelites, each male over 20 must give “half a shekel” of silver. Both the rich and the poor will give the same amount.

Yitro – 5780

Full text available in both Hebrew and English at Chabad.

Recall that Moses married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, the Chief of the Midans. He had one son name Gerson which means “I was a stranger in a strange land”.

He also had a son named Eliezer, which apparently means “The god of my Father rescued me from Pharaoh’s sword”. People just had cooler names back then.

His wife’s father and children had aparently been somewhere else during the battle with Pharoah, but they turn up now and Moses greats them with deep respect.

Jethro makes an animal sacrifice to G-d as his sign of respect.

Now, Moses was the Chief of the Israelites. Which meant he also had to act as Judge for all their petty complaints against each other. This took up most of his time from morning to evening.

Yethro advised moses that he should appoint “God fearers, men of truth, who hate monetary gain” to act as a “hierachy of Judges” on his behalf.

“leaders over thousands, leaders over hundreds, leaders over fifties, and leaders over tens.” Cases which were too hard for the lower Judges to resolve would be raised with a higher Judge. The highest Judge, of course, being Moses. And if he could not solve the problem then he would ask G-d.

Yethro now returns to his own Land. Presumably leaving his daughter and grandchildren behind with Moses.

Meanwhile the Israelites travel on to the “Sinai desert” and Moses has an important conversation with G-d.

“I am the Lord, your G-d, who redeemed you from slavery in Egypt. If you obey my Laws then I will make of you a Holy Nation”.

Moses repeated these words to the children of Israel, and they all agreed that, in light of recent events, following the Law of G-d was probably a good idea.

All the Israelites were instructed to go and take a shower, wash their clothes, and not have sex for three days. Then assemble at the foot of Mount Sinai. They were told not to try and climb the mountain or they would die.

On the third day, when all Israel assembled, there was fire and lightning and smoke on Mount Sinai. At the sound of the Shofar Moses instructed the Children of Israel in the “Ten Commandments”

  • I am the Lord, your god, who freed you from bondage in Egypt.
  • Do not worship any other god but me.
  • If you bow before images of the Sky or the Earth or the Sea then I will punish, not just you, but your children and grandchildren, to the fourth generation.
  • I will bless until the thousandth generations those who Love me and keep my Laws.
  • Do not swear falsely by my name.
  • Observe Shabbat.
  • You may work for six days. But on the seventh day you, your children, your slaves, your animals, and any foreigners who reside amongst you must rest.
  • G-d made the Earth in six days and rested on the seventh.
  • Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely against your neighbour.
  • Do not be envious of your neighbour’s house, his wife, his slaves, his animals, or anything else that belongs to your neighbour.

And the children of Israel “trembled in fear” at these words.G-d contiued speaking:

  • Do not make statues of silver or gold.
  • Make an alter to sacrifice animals to me out of Earth and “unhewn stone”.
  • Do not make steps leading up to my altar. [Because I will be able to see up your skirts while you are climbing up them?]

On that slightly strange note, the Parsha of this week ends.

Beshalach 5780

Full text in both English and Hebrew at Chabad.

The Israelites have now officially left Egypt. Of course, Moses remembered the promise to Joseph and brought his bones with him out of Egypt.

They are wandering around the desert following a “pillar of cloud” by day and a “pillar of fire” by night. Note that G-d has a very real physical appearance to the Israelites at this point in their journey. He is not some kind of “abstract concept”.

But we are not quite done with Pharaoh yet. Pharaoh decides to chase after Israel with 600 chariots.

The Israelites were not happy about this and started complaining. Why bring us out of Egypt only to be slaughtered by Pharaoh in the desert?

The relationship between G-d and the Israelites in Exodus is always tenuous. The Israelites complain that they can’t follow G-d’s logic and don’t understand what he is trying to accomplish. And neither do I – to be honest.

Moses basically says to the Israelites “Shut up. G-d will handle this”. Then with his “magic staff” he splits the “Red Sea”. And the Israelites pass across it on dry land.

Note that some people believe that this is all a mistranslation. “Mitzraim” actually means “East”. That is – Saudi Arabia. And the sea they crossed is actually the “Gulf of Aqaba”.

Anyway. Pharaoh and his horsemen tried to follow Israel across the Red Sea. But they all drowned. And the name of G-d was once again glorified before all the Nations.

Canaan. Moab. Edom. And the Philistines. All of trembled in fear of the Lord.

The Israelites also “feared the Lord” and realized he was no Deity to mess around with. They start singing a song which is a very old song. Possibly the oldest text to be found in the Hebrew Bible.

“The Eternal’s strength and His vengeance are my salvation”


The Hebrew women danced around with “timbrels”. Lead by Miriam. The sister of Moses and Aaron.

In the Islamic tradition “Miriam” and “Mary” are the same person. Which is a bit of a mess. Unless you suppose that Yeshua is a mistranslation of Yoshua. We don’t have a geneology for Yoshua. But he may well have been Miriam’s son.

But the story continues. The Israelites are in Merah and they have no water to drink. Once again they complain to G-d. And G-d gave them water.

There is a list of all the various places where the Israelites camped. Which may have some importance that I am not aware of. See the original text for details.

At Elim the Israelites complain again to G-d that they don’t have enough food to eat. So G-d gives them Manna.

No. Not the Magic Cards. The Mana which G-d gives to the Israelites rains down from Heaven every day and you can eat it. You can’t store it over night or else it will go rotten. So you have to collect it fresh again each day.Except on Shabbat. You collect a double portion on Friday.

It looked like corriander seed and tasted like “wafers with honey”. The Children of Israel ate this Manna every day for 40 years – whilst wandering in the desert.

Whilst camped at Rephidim they had water problems again. And complained to Moses. Lot’s of complaining – these Israelites. Not much has really changed. At one point Moses nearly got stoned by the unruly and dicontented masses. G-d even named this place “Meribah” because there was so much quarreling.

Somewhere in this story Moses splits a rock open with his “magic staff”. It is a little confusing.

Meanwhile Amalek turns up and starts a fight. Whenever Moses lifted up his staff into the air, Israel would win against Amalek. But sometimes his arm would get sore. He would lower his arm and Amalek would win against Israel.

Yoshua is the one who saves the day in this battle. And the Israelites swear to “obliterate the memory of Amalek”. There will be a war against Amalek from generation to generation.

Bo – 5780

Full text available at Chabad. Hebrew and English.

If you recall. G-d has “hardened Pharoah’s heart”. It is not entirely clear why he has done this. But I think the reason is that G-d wants to demonstrate his power to all the world – through miracles.

Basically he is “mocking” the Egyptians. And wants to humiliate them in the eyes of all the Nations.

Pharoah’s advisor’s counsel him to “give up” so Pharoah calls Moses in and asks him for details of his plan.

Moses says that he wants to take his people to worship G-d in the wilderness. Including the old people, women, children and cattle.

But Pharoah says that only the men are allowed to leave Egypt. So G-d strikes Egypt down with a plague of locusts. Then a plague of darkness.

The negotiation continues. Pharoah says that Moses and his people may go and worship in the wilderness. Including the women and children. But they must leave their cattle behind. But this is not good enough for Moses.

In preperation for the final, and most devestating plague, the Israelites borrow silver and gold from the neighbours.

In the final plague the first born of every man and animal living in Egypt is struck down. This includes Pharoah’s own son. The Israelites are obviously spared. As are their livestock.

The Israelites are saved because they sacrifice a lamb and smear the blood on the front gates of their houses. So that G-d knows they are Israelites, and does not harm them – or their animals.

Because they had to leave so suddenly, the bread they ate that night was “unleaven” (it had no yeast in it – and so did not rise). It was “flat bread”.

If this all sounds very “primitive” to you – that is because the story is set thousands of years ago. Nevertheless it is the foundation of the modern Jewish passover ritual.

There is some debate within the Jewish community about whether or not this “mass murder of Egyptian children” was perhaps a little excessive – on god’s part. But that is a question for moralists. I am just telling you the story.

Anyway, there was a “great cry” from the Egyptians, when they discovered their dead. And at this point they basically just told the Hebrews to get the fuck out of Egypt and never come back.

The Hebrews duly obliged.

Some Egyptians also departed at this time with the Israelites, including some slaves – who were circumcized and converted to the Hebrew religion.

G-d declared that the same Law shall apply to the native born Hebrew and the convert.

Non-Jewish people only required to follow the “7 laws of Noah”. Conversion to Judaism is not a requirement to live in the Land of Israel.

A “resident alien” in Israel has almost the exact same rights as a “full citizen”. He can work for the government or run his own business.

However he is exempt from both military service and various religious responsibilities. Marriage between Jews and Non-Jews is strongly discouraged.

The ritual of Pidyon Haben is still practiced today by religious Jews. Redemptioin of the first born son.

All Jewish people (religious or not) are required to re-tell the story of the Exodus to their children once a year. At the passover ceremony. And to imagine yourself, personally, as having been a slave in Egypt. Redeemed by the strong hand of G-d Almighty.

Va-eira – 5780

Full text available at Chabad in both English and Hebrew.

God introduces himself to Moses as “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob”. He then introduces himself again using the “secret name” [verb to-be].

He reminds Moses of the promise of land that was given to his ancestors. The Land of Israel.

He also promises to redeem the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. But the Israelites could not really understand what Moses was saying, because they were so exhausted by the hard labour.

So Moses went instead to Pharoah, to speak to him about the matter. This time his brother Aaaron does the talking. Because he is a bit more eloquent.

A long geneology is given as to how the family has grown since Jacob’s death, and who the male, first-born, heads of each household are. I won’t provide the details here. Please see the original text.

This habit of carefully memorizing geneologies is still practiced in much of Africa and Middle-East. Older European families do it as well, but it is less common in America and Australia and other parts of the “new world”.

God is being a little bit “difficult” now, because at the same time as commanding Moses to go and speak to Pharoah, he also notifies Moses in advance the Pharoah won’t listen.

Why are you telling me to go and speak to Pharoah, when you already know that he is not going to listen? I think God just wants an excuse to show off to everybody how powerful he is by performing miracles.

So now it is a “show down” between the Egyptian Magicians and God.

First there are some staffs which turn into snakes. But that is too easy. Anyone can do that.

So God turns all the water in the Nile into blood. This is a little more serious.

Next comes the “plague of frogs”. There are frogs everywhere. In people’s beds, and bathrooms and all over the kitchen. Everything smelt like frog.

Although the “necromancers” had a few tricks up their own sleaves, at this point they were starting to get nervous. And suggested to Pharoah that he should maybe not pick any more fights with G-d, and just let the Israelites go.

But Pharoah was stubborn and he refused.

The next plague is “noxious creatures” [not frogs] which swarm all over everything. Pharoah finally “cracks it” and says: “Fine, go and sacrifice to your god in the wilderness”.

But then [something confusing happens] and Pharaoh changes his mind. So G-d “smites” the Egyptians with boils and blisters. Including the “necromancers” who were not too happy about this.

Pharaoh remains stubborn. God tells Pharaoh that he could basically destroy the entire universe if he felt like it, but he is trying to make a very specific point. [That he is G-d. Nor Pharaoh]

Next there is a hail storm and fire all across Egypt. Archaeologists have never found any Egyptian sources verifying these events. And still don’t know which of the many Pharaoh’s that have ruled Egypt over thousands of years this story is supposed to refer to. But it is still a good story.

This time Pharoah says that he will let the Israelites go. But as soon as the hail and fire storm ended, he changed his mind again.

Shemot – 5780

We have finished the book of Genesis. And are now in the book of Exodus.

The Hebrews have become wealthy and powerful in Egypt. And a new King has risen who is not happy about this.

First a special “Hebrew tax” was introduced, to weaken the Hebrews economically. But this was not effective. The Hebrews continued to prosper.

As you can see, people have been “getting upset about tax” for a long time now.

Every time that an Egyptian laid eyes upon a Hebrew he was filled with disgust. So the Egyptians “had no choice” but to enslave the Hebrews with back-breaking labour.

They also ordered the “midwives” to murder all the male Hebrew babies. But allow the female Hebrew babies to live.

One of these Hebrew babies, who was supposed to be murdered, was Moses. Pharoah’s daughter found baby Moses in a basket in the Nile and rescued him. She then hired a wet nurse to raise him – who happened to be Moses biological mother.

Moses grew up in Pharoah’s household and was educated in the Egyptian ways.

When Moses grew up, he saw his Hebrew brothers being beaten as slaves. So he killed the Egyptian foreman who was beating them. Pharoah found out about this, so Moses had to run away.

He was taken in by Jether, the chief of the Midianites and married one of his daughters. Zipporah. Together they had a son called Gerson, which means “I was a stranger in a strange land”.

Meanwhile the Hebrew slaves were suffering and they cried out to G-d, who heard their cries and appeared to Moses and commands him to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt.

G-d originally introduces himself to Moses as the “God of your ancestors” but later tells Moses that his real name is “I am that which I will be”.

Another possible translation is “the essence of beingness”.

G-d warns Moses that Pharoah will not allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt – except through a mighty hand. He also tells Moses that the Hebrews will not leave Egypt empty handed, but will take with them the gold and silver and find garments of their Egyptian neighbours.

G-d also gives Moses a magic staff which can turn into a snake. And the ability to heal leprosy? [text unclear]

Moses complains to G-d that he is not an eloquent man. And sucks at public speaking. But G-d tells Moses not to worry, because he will speak through Moses mouth. And tell him what to do.

Moses brother Aaron somehow turns up out of nowhere. And meanwhile Zipporah decides to circumcise her son. Then Moses goes and confronts Pharoah tell him “I am the firstborn of the Israelites” [text confusing].

As predicted, Pharoah would not allow the Hebrews to make a sacrifice to their G-d in the desert. Instead he doubled the amount of forced labour that was imposed upon them. And had them beaten for not completing their daily quotas.

The Hebrews regretted having attempted a rebellion against Pharoah. And blamed Moses for their suffering. Moses, in turn, gets angry at G-d. Why have you done this?

Full text in both English and Hebrew available at Chabad.

Vayechi – 5780

As always, the full text of this week’s Parsha available at Chabad in both Hebrew and English.

In today’s episode of “our ancestors behaving badly” Jacob dies, but before doing so he tells Joseph not to bury him in Egypt.

God also appears to Jacob in a dream before he dies, and tells him that he will have many, many decendents. For many generations. His line will never die out.

In his final blessing to his grandsons, Jacob mixes things up between the first born and the second born.

Jacob makes a prophesy for each of his 12 sons. But in particular he prophesizes that “the law will never depart” from Judah.

He also prophesizes that Dan will avenge his people. Asher will eat delicious food. And Joseph will attract many beautiful women.

Jacob was embalmed by Joseph. In the way of the Egyptians. And with Pharoah’s permission his body was transported to Canaan and buried in the same cave as Abraham and Sarah.

Joseph lives to see the birth of his great-grandchildren before it is his turn to die.

Like his father, Joseph makes all the Israelites promise that they will bury him in the ancestral grave.

When he dies he is embalmed in the way of the Egyptians. And his body placed in a coffin, where it remains for some time.

To be continued….

Vayigash – 5780

The full text of this week’s Parsha may be found in both English and Hebrew at Chabad.

In this Parsha we learn the names of the 66 grandsons of Israel:

Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, Carmi, Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, Saul, Gershon, Kehath, Merari, Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, Zerah, Tola, Puvvah, Iob, Shimron, Sered, Elon, Jahleel, Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, Areli, Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Briah, Heber, Malkiel, Manasseh, Ephraim, Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Na’aman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, Ard, Hushim, Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, Shillem

Joseph reveals who he truly is to his brothers, and at first Israel can’t believe that his son Joseph has become viceroy of all Egypt. But he makes a sacrifice to G-d who confirms it.

So the entire family moves down to Egypt including their women and livestock. Israel blesses Pharoah and Pharoah gives Israel land in which his animals can graze. He also puts the Israelites in charge of managing Pharoah’s own flocks.

Note that the Egyptians were farmers not Shepherds. Only the Hebrews were Shepherds. They did not have the same “lifestyle”.

Meanwhile the famine in the land of Egypt was severe. But there was plenty of grain in Joseph’s graineries.

First Jacob gathered up all the money in Egypt, in exchange for grain. Then the Egyptians sold their famlands in order to buy more grain and moved from the countryside to the cities.

Only the priests did not sell their land, because they had been given it directly by Pharoah.

The people were actually grateful for the grain that Jacob was giving them, because it saved their lives from starvation. They were happy to be slaves to Pharoah for the rest of their lives, and their descendents.

Meanwhile, the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied in Egypt. They also aquired wealth and posessions.

Mikeitz – 5780

The full text of this Torah Portion may be found in both English and Hebrew at Chabad.

In this Torah portion we have Pharoah’s dream: Seven fat cows followed by seven thin cows. Seven healthy ears of grain followed by seven unhealthy ears of grain.

None of the Magicians of Egypt could interpret this dream. But they remembered Joseph in prison. And Joseph insisted that it was not he who interpreted dreams, but God.

Joseph told Pharoah that the dream represents seven years of prosperity in Egypt followed by seven years of famine. He adviced Pharoah to set up a tax on grain during the first seven years, which he could then sell back to the people during the second seven years. In exchange for their land and their labour.

So Pharoah was appointed viceroy of Egypt, the second most powerful man in Egypt. And followed Joseph’s advice. The Pyramid’s in Egypt are sometimes known as Joseph’s Graineries.

Joseph had two sons. Manasseh and Ephraim.

Meanwhile, Joseph’s eleven brothers were starving, so they decided to move to got down to Egypt and buy food. Only Benjamin stayed behind with his father Israel. Joseph recognized his brothers. But they did not recognize him. He demanded that Benjamin be brought to Egypt.