Portion


Doing It by the Book

By Marc Zvi Brettler

Deuteronomy is often singled out as the book of the Torah that cares most about social institutions. It is the only one that contains legislation concerning kings and prophets — both found in this week’s portion, Shoftim. A careful look at these texts suggests that this legislation is trying to curb the power of these individuals.Read More


Place and Time and Rest

By Peretz Rodman

‘Across the Jordan, things will be different,” Moses warns his listeners. “Up to now, everyone has done as he pleased.” In Canaan, though, things will be properly regulated; sacrifices will be made only in “the place where God will choose to establish His name.” In Deuteronomy 12:9, Moses uses two words to describe that promised land: menuhah, meaning “rest” or “resting place,” and nahalah, the term for one’s ancestral landholding, the primary form of wealth. The two terms reappear in the next verse as verbs: “When you cross the Jordan and settle in the land that the Eternal your God is giving-as-an-inheritance (manhil) to you and he gives-rest (ve-heniah) to you from all your enemies round about….”Read More


A First-person Narration

By Barry W. Holtz

Some wag once called the book of Deuteronomy “the Torah reading’s version of summer reruns” because significant sections of its narrative review what we have previously read in the fall, winter and spring in Genesis, Exodus and Numbers. Deuteronomy is structured, at least in its opening sections, as Moses’ recollection of the powerful events that the Israelite nation has already experienced, as the people wait for their climactic entry into the Land of Israel. But rather than summer reruns, Deuteronomy might better be viewed as the old exercise beloved by writing teachers: Tell a story using a third-person narrator; now tell it again in the first person, from the point of view of one of the characters.Read More


Through the Portal

By Judy Bolton-Fasman

When I recited the Sh’ma as a child, the words evoked another world. It was my rabbit hole, my looking glass, my wardrobe. When I said the Sh’ma, I pictured the large block Hebrew letters as the ultimate portal to God.Read More


Psalm 151

Charles Bernstein, a professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, is known as a theorist and writer of “language” poetry. Among his 12 collections, the two most recent are “With Strings” (University of Chicago Press, 2001) and “Republics of Reality: 1975-1995” (Sun & Moon Press, 2000).Read More





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