Oxford Jewish Thought

Lectures, essays, questions & articles

by Rabbi Eli Brackman

Parsha and Manuscript - Devarim - 'Deciphering the place Di-Zahav in the Rashi manuscripts at the Bodleian Library'

MS. Canon. Or. 81, fol. 160 (1396) Devarim.pngIn the Torah portion of Devarim, it discusses how Moses rebuked the Jewish people and reviewed the laws of the Torah before his passing. The rebuke of the Jewish people comes in two stages: the first, hinting the misdemeanours by mentioning them only in connection with the names of the places they sinned, followed by a more detailed recounting of their sins throughout the portion of Devarim. Reasons for this differentiation is due to the fact that the first encrypted rebuke was spoken only to the leaders of the Jewish people and that it was Moses’ own decision to rebuke them at this time, thus it was done with deference to the dignity of the people, whereas the more detailed rebuke was to all the people and by the command of G-d.

&nb… Read More »

Parsha and Manuscript: Masei - The listing of the journeys: provocation or love?

The portion of Masei discusses the enumeration in detail of the forty two travels of the Jewish people after the Exodus in the desert until they arrived on the east bank of the Jordan river before entering the land. The Torah states:[1] ‘These are the journeys of the children of Israel who left the land of Egypt in their legions, under the charge of Moses and Aaron.’ The question that arises is: why does the Torah repeat all the places of the encampment of the Jewish people in the desert, when this has been enumerated in detail previously in the Torah in the book of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers.


The commentators starting from the ancient period right through medieval times, until the 19th century, have addressed this q… Read More »

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