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Hashem’s Repudiation of the Egyptian Deities

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With this week’s Parshat Va’eira, the Torah begins to report the 10 plagues that Hashem inflicted on Egypt to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites from bondage. In Parshat Bo, when Hashem first tells Moshe how He will go about killing the Egyptian first-born in the final and most devastating plague, He adds, “and...

What Is the Meaning of Navi?

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This week’s parshah uses the term navi. (See Ex. 7:1). This gives me the opportunity to explore the meaning of this unusual word. In English, the word is usually translated as “prophet,” which has a connotation of someone who is able to predict the future. But what is the root of the Hebrew word navi? And is ability to predict the future implied in the Hebrew?

Rashi (commenting on Ex. 7:1) connects navi with the word niv (nun, yod, bet), relying on Is. 57:19 (niv sefatayim). The word niv in this verse in Isaiah means something like the “outgrowth of” or “something that flows from.” From his further comments, we see that Rashi views a navi as one who expresses words of...

Spiritual Time Management

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The two old men couldn’t have been more different from each other. Yet, they both taught me the identical life lesson.

The first, a cagey old Irishman, was one of my mentors in the postgraduate psychotherapy training program in which I was enrolled many years ago. He wrote quite a few books in his day, but they are all out of print now and nearly forgotten, like so many other wise writings.

The other was an aged rabbi, several of whose Yiddish discourses I was privileged to hear in person. He was but moderately famous in his lifetime, but is much more well-known nowadays because of the popularity of his posthumously published writings.

The lesson was about the importance of time...

What Is the Connection Between the Words Lechem (Bread) and Milchama (War)?

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At the beginning of this week’s parshah, the word milchama is used. This gives me the opportunity to answer the question that has surely been bothering you since childhood: Is the noun lechem (bread) related to the verb LChM (fight) and its related noun milchama (war)? Undisputedly, all these words have the root LChM, making a relationship likely. But what precisely is the relationship?

Interestingly, English includes the term “food fight.” Was Biblical Hebrew modeled on some ancient kindergarten where children fought over morsels of bread? (Interestingly, the word “companionship” is derived from an original meaning of “sharing of bread,” so in English, “bread” ends up...

So Who Was the Pharaoh of the Exodus?

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In my opinion, it most certainly was NOT Ramesses II, despite what many historians claim.

According to 1 Kings 6:1, Solomon built the Temple in his fourth year. It is now well established that the fourth year of Solomon was 966 BCE (give or take a year or two). 1 Kings 6:1 states very clearly that the Temple was built 480 years after the Exodus. Thus, the Exodus must have taken place in approximately 1446 BCE. The Pharaoh at this time was Thutmose III. (He reigned from 1479-1425 BCE.) Anyone who advocates for a mid-13th century BCE date, the time of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BCE), is not accepting the clear import of 1 Kings 6:1 and unjustifiably chopping the number by approximately 200...

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