Hamas War

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Parshat Shavua: Lot and His Daughters-Disfunctional Family

This week's Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week VaYerah, includes two very disturbing scenes concerning  the family life of Avraham's nephew, also protégé, Lot. Both are in Bereishit Genesis Chapter 19.

The first event, which is printed below, takes place when two messengers from Gd, generally translated as angels, who appear to be ordinary men, come to Lot to tell him to take his family and leave Sdom. When neighbors begin to attack the house demanding that Lot hand over the guests for the neighbors to rape, Lot in defense of his guests offers his virgin daughters instead.

Genesis Chapter 19

I consider this offer to be beyond outrageous. We don't read of any protest by his wife or daughters. They are very unlike Avraham's wife Sarah who's not afraid to tell her husband when things need fixing in the family. But most important it prepares us for an equally shocking act by the daughters themselves.

After only Lot and his two daughters manage to escape from Sdom, the girls, believing that they are the last three people on earth, decide to sleep with their father in order to have children. But they didn't tell their father of the plan; they got him drunk, so he was oblivious.

Genesis Chapter 19 continued:

30And Lot went up from Zoar, and he dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters were with him, for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar; so he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. לוַיַּ֩עַל֩ ל֨וֹט מִצּ֜וֹעַר וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב בָּהָ֗ר וּשְׁתֵּ֤י בְנֹתָיו֙ עִמּ֔וֹ כִּ֥י יָרֵ֖א לָשֶׁ֣בֶת בְּצ֑וֹעַר וַיֵּ֨שֶׁב֙ בַּמְּעָרָ֔ה ה֖וּא וּשְׁתֵּ֥י בְנֹתָֽיו:
31And the elder said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is no man on earth to come upon us, as is the custom of all the earth. לאוַתֹּ֧אמֶר הַבְּכִירָ֛ה אֶל־הַצְּעִירָ֖ה אָבִ֣ינוּ זָקֵ֑ן וְאִ֨ישׁ אֵ֤ין בָּאָ֨רֶץ֙ לָב֣וֹא עָלֵ֔ינוּ כְּדֶ֖רֶךְ כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ:
32Come, let us give our father wine to drink, and let us lie with him, and let us bring to life seed from our father." לבלְכָ֨ה נַשְׁקֶ֧ה אֶת־אָבִ֛ינוּ יַ֖יִן וְנִשְׁכְּבָ֣ה עִמּ֑וֹ וּנְחַיֶּ֥ה מֵֽאָבִ֖ינוּ זָֽרַע:
33And they gave their father wine to drink on that night, and the elder came and lay with her father, and he did not know of her lying down or of her rising up. לגוַתַּשְׁקֶ֧יןָ אֶת־אֲבִיהֶ֛ן יַ֖יִן בַּלַּ֣יְלָה ה֑וּא וַתָּבֹ֤א הַבְּכִירָה֙ וַתִּשְׁכַּ֣ב אֶת־אָבִ֔יהָ וְלֹֽא־יָדַ֥ע בְּשִׁכְבָ֖הּ וּבְקוּמָֽהּ:
34And it came to pass on the morrow, that the elder said to the younger, "Behold, last night I lay with my father. Let us give him wine to drink tonight too, and come, lie with him, and let us bring to life seed from our father." לדוַֽיְהִי֙ מִמָּֽחֳרָ֔ת וַתֹּ֤אמֶר הַבְּכִירָה֙ אֶל־הַצְּעִירָ֔ה הֵֽן־שָׁכַ֥בְתִּי אֶ֖מֶשׁ אֶת־אָבִ֑י נַשְׁקֶ֨נּוּ יַ֜יִן גַּם־הַלַּ֗יְלָה וּבֹ֨אִי֙ שִׁכְבִ֣י עִמּ֔וֹ וּנְחַיֶּ֥ה מֵֽאָבִ֖ינוּ זָֽרַע:
35So they gave their father to drink on that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know of her lying down or of her rising up. להוַתַּשְׁקֶ֜יןָ גַּ֣ם בַּלַּ֧יְלָה הַה֛וּא אֶת־אֲבִיהֶ֖ן יָ֑יִן וַתָּ֤קָם הַצְּעִירָה֙ וַתִּשְׁכַּ֣ב עִמּ֔וֹ וְלֹֽא־יָדַ֥ע בְּשִׁכְבָ֖הּ וּבְקֻמָֽהּ:
36And Lot's two daughters conceived from their father. לווַתַּֽהֲרֶ֛יןָ שְׁתֵּ֥י בְנֽוֹת־ל֖וֹט מֵֽאֲבִיהֶֽן:
37And the elder bore a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of Moab until this day. לזוַתֵּ֤לֶד הַבְּכִירָה֙ בֵּ֔ן וַתִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ מוֹאָ֑ב ה֥וּא אֲבִֽי־מוֹאָ֖ב עַד־הַיּֽוֹם:
38And the younger, she too bore a son, and she named him Ben-ami; he is the father of the children of Ammon until this day. לחוְהַצְּעִירָ֤ה גַם־הִוא֙ יָ֣לְדָה בֵּ֔ן וַתִּקְרָ֥א שְׁמ֖וֹ בֶּן־עַמִּ֑י ה֛וּא אֲבִ֥י בְנֵֽי־עַמּ֖וֹן עַד־הַיּֽוֹם:
We never hear Lot's reaction when he discovers his "virgin daughters" pregnant or anything else about this besides the last verses which states that it resulted in two nations, Moab and Ammon. 

I feel that there's a connection between these two events. Something in the way Lot ran his home made his daughters feel that they needed to take charge and go against accepted moral practices.

Incidentally, King David's Great-grandmother Ruth was a Moabite. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Irma's Passport, A Book Review

Catherine Ehrlich wrote an amazingly compelling biography about her grandmother, Irma's Passport: One Woman, Two World Wars, and a Legacy of Courage

Irma Ehrlich's story is both profoundly personal and strongly historic. Irma's Passport can be enjoyed both by those who have a good knowledge of the Holocaust and also, those who haven't yet learned all that much about it. Catherine Ehrlich certainly did her grandmother proud in this very informative and moving book. 

Not only did Irma live through two world wars, but she was also twice widowed. Her second husband Jakob Ehrlich, a well-known Zionist activist, was one of the first Jewish victims of the Nazis, and she and her teenage son Paul, Catherine's father, successfully fled. The bureaucracy she faced and had to conquer was a cross between The Twilight Zone and Catch 22.

Paul and Irma made it to England where he was accepted into an elite boarding school, and she quickly became a successful spokesperson in Britain and North America warning about the dangers of Nazi Germany. Just as she was about to accept the position as Chaim Weitzman's secretary they received notice that they could emigrate to the United States. 

Irma accepted Paul's request that they start yet again in a new country. 

Irma's Passport also tells of Irma's earlier life. In many ways she was a feminist, being one of the only females in the university. Her life was full of challenges, which she managed to overcome with intelligence, determination and luck.

I definitely recommend Irma's Passport for all, young and old. Catherine's labor of love, her grandmother's biography is truly inspiring.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ She Writes Press (October 12, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 248 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1647423058
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1647423056

Friday, October 8, 2021

Parshat Noach: Confusing/Distorting English Translation...

Chabad online Tanach

Yesterday when I was preparing for a Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the week class my neighbor teaches, I got "confused," sort of. 

First I must admit that I read it in English, even though we study in Hebrew. That's not usually a problem. When it comes to reading, my English is far superior to my Hebrew, but when I find something "peculiar," I check the Hebrew.

Please read the two circles sections. Concerning the descendants of Noach/Noah, Chapter 10, it says that they spoke multiple languages, blue circle. The sin/story of Migdal Bavel, the Tower of Babel ends with the builders punished by their speaking multiple languages instead of one. Look at what's in the red circle.

Both circled sections use the word language. It makes no sense.

So I decided to check out the Hebrew. Chapter 10 uses the word לשון lashon, tongue, while Chapter 11 uses שפה saffa, lip.

Translation isn't Mathematics. 1 is one, uno, achad etc. But as in one of my linguistic pet peeves, the Hebrew סרוג\סרוגה sarug/srugah can mean either knitting or crocheting which are not the same.

So my question is:

What's the difference between לשון lashon and שפה saffa when it comes to language? Not as parts of the mouth, which are obvious.


Monday, October 4, 2021

My Letter About Bennett's "First 100 Days" in Jerusalem Post

I wrote about David M. Weinberg's Rating Bennett's premiership after 100 days in power - opinion

It was such a relief to read David M. Weinberg's "scorecard" on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's first 100 one hundred days in power. Too many people are searching for faults. 

Remember that a hundred days ago all we kept hearing was that the Bennett-Lapid government wouldn't survive a month, and that was the polite reaction. The screaming and cursing we heard from the MKs and former ministers who had been counting on remaining in that "twilight zone" of power forever proved to many of us that they had been in power many years too many. 

Weinberg's points are all excellent. 

About Bennett's UNGA speech, it was fine and gave the world a chance to meet him. Of course Naftali Bennett can't compete with Binyamin Netanyahu's skills as an orator. Honestly, I don't know if anyone in the world can. Bibi is an extraordinarily gifted orator-- among the very best in the world. That's no reason for him to stay Prime Minister. 

But there's one thing that Naftali Bennett can do that Bibi can't. Bennett can get along with people. I wish our Prime Minister success and just hope it doesn't go to his head... 

Batya Medad בתי'ה