Posts tagged " Hebrew "

Good Gracious, You’re Pregnant!

October 9th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 7 comments

“Just five more minutes,” “One more chapter,” “I guess I can stay a little longer.” The temptation to stretch out an enjoyable activity just a little bit more is one to which we can all relate.

After a month of reveling in God’s closeness, culminating with the Festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), the Jewish people felt the same way. In response, God granted them an extra holy day, Simhat Torah, that begins as Sukkot ebbs away (starting this year Wednesday night, Oct. 11). Literally translated as “The Joy of the Torah,” it is on this day that we conclude and begin anew the annual cycle of reading the Five Books of Moses.

That makes this week a particularly apt time to highlight the idea that the first time in Genesis that a specific letter is used to start a word, that word provides a key to the inner meaning of that initial letter.

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Who Me?

September 25th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 9 comments

Which word connects these five sentences?

  • The world of baseball went wild in the spring of 1974 when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.
  • It was at the height of the hurricane when three men and a woman, crewing the Coast Guard Sikorsky Jayhawk helicopter, took off hoping to home in on the radio distress beacon that had been deployed by the stricken cargo ship.
  • There were no signs of trouble the day that newlyweds, Mary and Allen moved into their new home.
  • Almost everyone knows that in sports, the home team enjoys an advantage but nobody knows exactly why.
  • China prices its car exports far lower than they do at home.

In each sentence, the word “home” has a slightly different meaning but with a little thought one can see how these five different applications might be connected.  But there is little point in the exercise.

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Seeing Eye-to-Eye

June 20th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 19 comments

Reading your rabbi’s observations about a baby’s behavior is probably going to be as incongruous as overhearing a cannibal enthusing about a veggie burger made of sweet potato, quinoa and black beans with a little creamy lime aioli drizzled on top. (Not sure what lime aioli is?  Me neither.)

Nonetheless, I must tell you of something I recently noticed in an extremely cute little one year-old.  While I was talking to him, his eyes were not on the only moving part of my face, my mouth.  Instead, he gazed into my eyes.  This made no sense to me because in general, babies’ eyes are drawn to movement.  Yet while I was talking to him, he watched my motionless eyes instead of my moving mouth.

I was so puzzled by this that I tested it on a few other pre-talking little toddlers and discovered they all had this disconcerting tendency.  I am obviously accustomed to adults looking into one another’s eyes. But babies?  It would make most sense to me if their eyes were drawn to the mouths of those talking to them. But if they are not going to be looking at the moving mouth, why are they looking at the eyes rather than the conspicuous nose or huge expanse of forehead?

Ancient Jewish wisdom might suggest an explanation.  In the Lord’s language, Hebrew, the word for eye is AYIN while the word for mouth is PEH.  Those two words, AYIN and PEH are also the names of two consecutive letters in the Hebrew alphabet, the sixteenth and seventeenth letters, respectively.

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Snow Day; Grow Day

March 14th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 12 comments

A couple I knew, misunderstanding the meaning of being loving parents, raised their children with no rules and little restraint.  You won’t be shocked to hear that their two kids grew into demanding little monsters.

The parents blamed the children’s teachers for why their children were ‘difficult’.  They explained that their children ‘had issues’ because of preservatives in food. They blamed the tiny tyrants’ grandparents.  They never were able to see their poor parenting as the central problem.

It’s hard to live an effective life when you are blind to cause and effect.

Imagine someone waking up on a recent morning in Washington DC, to discover that forty inches of snow fell in the night.  Shivering with cold, he turns up the thermostat to no effect.  He tries to turn on the lights, but the electricity is out.

Listen to him saying, “I can’t believe this!  What bad luck!  On the same morning, no heat, no lights, and on top of that, there’s a load of snow all over my yard.”  He sees three separate, simultaneous but disconnected inconveniences, not comprehending that they are all linked.

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Thought Tool Update

October 20th, 2016 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Thanks for your comments about needing a visual. Please check out the Thought Tool again – let us know if the Hebrew visual is helpful.

While we are learning how to take full advantage of our website, one of the things that we are most enjoying is hearing from all of you through the comments section. Being able to easily edit the teaching in response to your comments is an additional treat.

What’s in a Name?

October 19th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 23 comments

In an act of unprecedented ostentatiousness, Gerald Guterman chartered the famous ocean liner, the QE2, along with its one thousand crew members to celebrate his son’s bar-mitzvah in 1986.

Our son’s bar-mitzvah was solemnized in a small synagogue built on the Los Angeles ocean front in the 1940s.  Guterman was trying to add meaning to his family celebration by means of an extraordinary location.  We were blessed to add meaning to a picturesque old house of worship by having it house our act of religious significance.

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What do God’s different names mean?

September 15th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 16 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…)

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