jethro

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The Final Frontier

In this Torah portion, Devarim (Deuteronomy 1-3), Moses recalls the travels through the Sinai desert when God told him: Be not at enmity with Moab, neither contend with them in battle; for I will not give thee of his land for a possession. (Deuteronomy 2:9) To put this into context, let us recall the covenant of the pieces (or covenant between the parts, Heb. Brit Bein HaBetarim), when God promised Avraham: On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates; the Kenite, and the Kenizzite, and the Kadmonite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Rephaim, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.” (Genesis 15:19-21) The medieval [...]

Convergence of Science and Torah

The Torah portion of Yitro (Ex. 18), is the high point of the story of Exodus—the giving of the Decalogue on Mount Sinai.  In a strange digression, the progressive narrative of the Exodus from Egypt is interrupted by the side story of Jethro (Yitro), the father-in-law of Moses, who comes to Sinai desert to join the Jewish nation.  After hearing Moses’ account of all the miracles God performed for Jewish people, Jethro exclaimed: Now I know that the Lord is greater than all deities. (Ex. 18:11) Jethro said confidently, “I know,” because, as the chief priest of Midian, he indeed knew all pagan cults and all deities worshiped in his time.  Moreover, in antiquity, priests were expected to possess all secular knowledge as well (sadly, it is no longer the case).  They needed to [...]

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