Posts tagged " Hebrew "

What do God’s different names mean?

September 15th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 12 comments

Question:

I am looking for some good Jewish/Hebrew information about the names of God. Has Rabbi Daniel Lapin written or spoken on that topic anywhere? 

I love what I have learned from him and I would like to learn more on this topic.

Anne

Answer:

Dear Anne,

One of the amazing things about studying the Torah is that you never reach a point where you can say, “Well, now I know everything.” The question you are asking illustrates how reading passages with a focus on a specific idea—in your case the name used for God—can reveal an entire new level of meaning.

Sometimes, the name for God that is used changes our entire understanding of an episode. In The Gathering Storm: Decoding the Secrets of Noah, we reveal how early in Genesis God’s name changes (in the Hebrew, of course), and how looking at certain sections through the lens of which name is used gives an entirely new perspective on what we thought we understood.

Sometimes a Name connoting mercy is used and other times the Name associated with justice. In some places, for instance in Esther, there are hidden mentions.  We often point them out in our TV show and in our writing.

One of the chapters in our book Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language (which is on sale right now!) discusses even another name of God. We hope this gives you a starting point for a deeper study of Scripture.

Keep asking questions,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Who’s the “us” in “Let us make man”?

July 14th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 1 comment

Question:

In Genesis God declares, “Let Us make man in Our Own Image.” Who is the Us?

∼ Ted M., MD

Answer:

Dear Ted,

The phrase, “Let us make man…” is the subject of volumes of ancient Jewish wisdom. So troubling is it on the surface, that when Jewish sages were forced to translate the Bible into Greek (an event whose ramifications are felt so deeply that until today that date is observed annually by fasting) seventy sages purposely mistranslated the verse, despite being in different rooms. Miraculously every one of them translated it as, “let me make man”.
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Do orthodox Jews interpret the Bible literally?

June 17th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 1 comment

Question:

My pastor tells me that, “The most orthodox view historically seems to be not a literal interpretation,” with the creation story in Genesis 1-3.

Would you agree with this? Are there other passages in the Torah like this? Are their hints in the Hebrew that suggest something to be non-literal?  ∼ Jarred

Answer:

Dear Jarred,

A few days ago, Jews celebrated the festival of Shavuot, known in English as Pentecost. Shavuot falls during the Hebrew month of Sivan, whose sign is twins. (General culture adapted this idea turning it into the zodiac sign of Gemini.)

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Rowdy Red or Benign Blue

May 31st, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

It was on election night November 2nd, 1976, when President Ford was being challenged by Jimmy Carter that NBC television showed us our first blue/red electoral map. The blue was Republican and showed the 27 states won by Ford, while red was Democrat. It was only in the 2000 Bush-Gore election that the colors were switched. Since then red shows states and counties voting Republican while blue stands for Democrats.

This was a cunning reversal of the usual convention of red symbols standing for left-leaning revolutionary movements while conservative parties in almost every country used blue. After all, the color red was emblematic of communism and still reminds us of the Soviets. You might remember the Cold War cry of the American left, “Better red than dead!” (more…)

What exactly are we supposed to subdue?

May 25th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

“The first mission or command given to mankind is be fruitful, multiply, subdue and have dominion. Can you explain this in detail? I’ve heard that the word “subdue” specifically means to take rulership over something or someone hostile. 

Who or what is the word hostile referring to?  

∼ Scott C.

Answer:

Dear Scott,

Because of the difficulty in translating accurately from the Hebrew we think that your English translation is actually combining the final two verbs to imply both subduing and having dominion. (more…)

Is going home a mistake?

May 19th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

“Thank you so much for your commitment to helping believers (both Jewish and Christian) obtain greater understanding of life’s questions. I have a trip planned with my siblings to travel to the areas where we grew up in hopes of reliving some wonderful memories of our childhood. Of course there will will be a mix of laughs, smiles and the inevitable sad memories (no one’s life is without this). 

Is this a healthy activity, to revisit one’s past to enjoy memories and life lessons from the past in order to reinforce who you are today? I have been told this is a waste of time and I should only look to the future. Thank you for your insight.”

∼ Breljana

Answer:

Dear Breljana,

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Truth and Lies

May 10th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

What parent, at one time or another, hasn’t wished for an absolutely reliable, invisible lie-detector? What business professional interviewing a potential hire hasn’t wished for exactly the same thing? Now I know what you’re thinking. ‘Invisible’ is impossible. True, but so is ‘absolutely reliable lie-detector,’ so I saw no harm in adding ‘invisible’ to the wish list.

It is true that stress can cause various physiological responses like elevated blood pressure and sweating. It is also true that these can be measured by a polygraph but for good reason, most legal jurisdictions allow polygraph results only for investigatory purposes, not for gaining a conviction. Factors other than lying can cause the same physiological responses and too many people can lie without presenting these physical reactions. (more…)

What’s up with gender?

February 25th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I’ve noticed a change in your writings. Why do you now use the word gender instead of sex?

∼ Kristal M.

Answer:

Dear Kristal,

What an astute observation. We’re a bit humbled that you are paying such close attention to our words. The answer to your question is simple, but the implications are not.

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The windmills of your mind

January 20th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

You’ll remember how, as children, we sent what we fondly believed to be securely encrypted messages to our friends. The trick was using numbers or symbols in place of letters. Thus, “Dear Joe nice to have seen you yesterday. Are you getting a present for Anne?” could be written something like this: “23 11 4 7   15 19 11   3 22 8 11   14 19 55 4 66 11,” and so on.

We quickly learned how to decode this kind of message. In most English writing, the letter ‘e’ occurs far more frequently than, say, the letters ‘p’ or ‘y’. In my example above, out of 61 letters, the letter ‘e’ shows up a disproportionate 13 times. By substituting an ‘e’ for the most frequently occurring symbol, the message starts to reveal its meaning. The next most frequently found letter in English is T, followed by A. With a few more substitutions the message can be decoded. (more…)

Make Meetings Matter

January 16th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In early January we tend to focus on the future. Yet, while New Year’s resolutions are not about reexamining last year’s failures, it is important to remember that there is no moving forward if we fail to integrate our past realities with our future plans. Our past realities shouldn’t haunt us and hinder us. But we do well to recognize them, adjust for them where necessary and reject the notion that they have the power to keep us anchored in an unchangeable present.

What is one of the most powerful tools for moving forward? Make meetings matter. (more…)

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