Our minds yearn for expansion, discovery, engagement. Too often we fill them with drivel. The Hebrew Nerd offers you some reflections on phrases of Torah to widen your intellectual borders and fill your soul horizon.
Based on the “Today’s Hebrew” section of the Daily Portion emails (which you can subscribe to for free by clicking here), the Nerd is posting some of the best examples of the way the Hebrew language of Torah surprises us and enlarges us.
Here is the page where you will find week to week more and more posts about “Words of Torah”:
More about Words of Torah
The Torah contains 79,976 words (304,805 letters). The Jewish way of reading this collection of five ancient books goes beyond understanding them as historical artifacts. The Torah must be allowed to speak. Whereas we might look with a critical, modern eye on the Torah and say it lacks some things we would hope to see in it and contains some things we find repugnant (slavery, genocide, misogyny) that this is not the last word. And this is not Torah in its ultimate sense.
Torah forms the core of a living tradition. Torah speaks in a trajectory from its historical beginning as a constitution of sorts for an actual nation during the bronze and iron ages of humanity. Already in the bronze and iron ages the evolving Torah was ahead of its time. It undermined the very slavery it permitted by saying “love your neighbor as yourself” and “you shall not oppress your neighbor” and “you shall love the stranger as yourself” (all in Leviticus 19).
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says that he has learned to approach Torah in a particular way he calls torah vehokhma, which is “Torah and wisdom” (The Jonathan Sacks Haggada, page 8). Wisdom, says R. Sacks, is what we discover and Torah is what we inherit. Reading the words of Torah properly involves both. To put it simply, we read Torah as an evolving message and not a static relic of the past. This is possible because within the Torah there is development and with the Hebrew Bible there is even more and within Judaism this only expands further.
These reflections on the Words of Torah are all about that. I hope they bring some mental fulfillment and soul delight to you.