When the English novelist, Charles Dickens, visited a prison outside of Philadelphia in 1842, he witnessed prisoners being held in solitary confinement. He wrote that most people are incapable of recognizing the full extent of the torture and agony of being incarcerated alone. He insisted that the mental torture of solitary confinement was far worse than any torture that could be inflicted upon the body.
In this, Dickens was agreeing with the Bible’s insistence on everyone’s need for human connection.
We’re all familiar with the 187 chapters into which Archbishop Langton divided the text of the Five Books of Moses in the 13th century. Less well known are the 54 original divisions called sidras, each containing a few chapters and each named according to a word appearing early in the sidra that conveys the main theme of the sidra. Uncovering the connection between the sidra’s theme and its name is always interesting.