Archive for the ‘Parshah’ Category

To the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon,” these new lyrics (by me) capture the Biblical and midrashic stories about the enigmatic giant known as Og.

Og, the mighty giant, tall as he could be,

He held on tight to Noah’s Ark, to survive the mabul sea.


In the rain Og traveled, as the Teivah sailed,

It bobbed and rocked and shook and lurched, what a whale of a tale! Oh…


Og, the mighty giant, tall as he could be,

He held on tight to Noah’s Ark, to survive the mabul sea.


Og, the mighty giant, tall as he could be,

He held on tight to Noah’s Ark, to survive the mabul sea.


When Lot was living in Sedom, the Five Kings went to war,

Lot was captured when the five kings lost against the four.


Og tried to be clever, came and told Avram,

He hoped Avram would die but Avram fought with dirt and won.


Og, the mighty giant, tall as he could be,

He held on tight to Noah’s Ark, to survive the mabul sea.


Og, the mighty giant, tall as he could be,

He held on tight to Noah’s Ark, to survive the mabul sea.


Mighty King of Bashan, later Og became,

Everyone would tremble at the mention of his name.


Old King Og would try to destroy Avraham’s children,

Tried to squash B’ney Yisrael with a big mountain.


Humble Moshe jumped and struck Og’s ankle with his staff,

That’s how Og met his mighty end, he had not the last laugh.


Og, the Mighty Giant, thought that he was brave,

He didn’t know only Hashem has the power to save. Oh…


Og, the mighty giant, tall as he could be,

He held on tight to Noah’s Ark, to survive the mabul sea.


Og, the mighty giant, tall as he could be,

He held on tight to Noah’s Ark, to survive the mabul sea.

Question from a reader: “What’s up with Jeshurun? Where does this name come from? What does it signify?”

Great question! Believe it or not, my research, thus far, has not yielded much. Just haven’t found too many sources that actually address this. Like, everyone basically just shrugs and goes, “Yeah, Jeshurun is Israel. Same thing. Duh.”

On the surface, the name Jeshurun (pronounced Yeshurun in Hebrew) derives from the Hebrew root ישר, like the word yashar, meaning “straight” or “upright.” Yeshurun as a name for Israel would then signify “Upright Nation.” Sounds good.

In fact, this is exactly how Ramban (Nachmanides) defines the term (Deuteronomy 33:5). (See Oct. 2 UPDATE below.)

So far, I’ve only found one other writer that weighs in, and offers a different definition than the Ramban’s. According to K’li Yakar, “Yeshurun” derives from a root meaning “seeing” of some sort, like close scrutiny, though I’m not sure what word K’li Yakar is relating it to. (See Oct. 2 UPDATE below.) In any event, the meaning is, according to K’li Yakar, that Israel puts its leaders under intense scrutiny and does not easily accept their authority or legitimacy. Nevertheless, Deuteronomy 33:5 declares: “There was a King in Yeshurun,” meaning that the legitimacy of HaShem as God was accepted by Israel on account of the great signs and wonders that they themselves witnessed over the course of the sojourn in the wilderness over the past forty years.

This explanation of K’li Yakar is quite brilliant for many reasons. Firstly, it explains the context, why Yeshurun is the name chosen in conjunction with mentioning that Israel had a King. The Ramban’s explanation, though linguistically easier to digest, does not have this advantage of context. Secondly, since this is the end of the sojourn, and we are dealing with the generation that followed those who left Egypt, most of those present did not witness the miracles of the Exodus firsthand; they did not have the advantage of this experience to cause them to accept HaShem as God and King. Nevertheless, the Torah tells us here that even now, Israel accepted HaShem as King on the basis of the scrutiny of their own experiences in the desert.

Well, folks, that’s all so far, though I will be happy to post more info as I find it. And happy to hear from any readers with more insights.

October 2 UPDATE:

Ibn Ezra to Deut. 32:15 also relates Yeshurun to “yashar,” meaning straight, like Ramban, then offers that it may also be related to “ashurenu,” meaning “seeing,” as in Numbers 23:9: “For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him (ashurenu).” Sephorno (Deut. 32:15) also relates Yeshurun to seeing. This gives us the source for the K’li Yakar cited above!

Also see Isaiah 44:2: “Thus says HaShem that made you, and formed you from the womb, who will help you: Fear not, O Jacob My servant, and Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.” Radak there comments that Yeshurun is from yashar, like Ramban and Ibn Ezra, “for they are upright among the nations.”


We constantly hear in the media and from left-leaning individuals and groups, as well as from the United Nations and the spokespeople of the various world nations, about the evils perpetrated by the State of Israel any time it takes defensive actions against the groups or individuals that have sworn to destroy it. The enemies of Israel, which include terrorist organizations, various Arab countries, as well as radicalized Muslims within its borders, continually attempt Israel’s destruction through targeting, endangering and murdering its citizens through aggressive acts of war or terrorist attacks.

Yet the heat in the media and the world stage is always directed against Israel. She is always the culprit, the aggressor, the criminal, the abuser, the genocidal murderer. It has long been decried in the pro-Israel media the blatant bias and hypocritical double standard of Israel’s detractors. The same defensive actions by any other country are hailed, while vicious genocides taking place routinely in Muslim countries are ignored. It is only Israel that may not defend herself. It is only Israel that must turn the other cheek to its would-be slaughterer, and that evokes the anger, hatred and condemnation of the world for defending itself and overcoming its attackers.

Well folks, it may surprise you to know that this is NOT a phenomenon unique to the modern State of Israel or to our “civilized” age. Rather, so has it been from the very beginning of our history. Since the inception of the Jewish nation in ancient times, the ire and rage of the nations has been directed at Israel for the simple crime of not getting stomped underfoot by those who would destroy her.

Imagine my shock at finding this phenomenon articulated ever so openly in a midrash — an ancient Jewish oral tradition — concerning the events in this week’s Torah portion.

This week we read B’Shalach, in which, after the crushing cataclysm of the Ten Plagues destroys the once-mighty Egypt, the nation of Israel emerges, under Divine protection, and crosses the Red Sea amid indescribable miracles, even as their former oppressors pursue them to bring about a “final solution.” We all know the story — the Egyptians drown in the Sea, the Israelites are delivered safely upon dry land, and the scene climaxes with the simultaneous outburst of prophetic song known as “the Song of the Sea.”

In that song, the people of Israel declare, “The nations heard and became enraged (שמעו עמים ירגזון)!” Why would the nations become enraged when they hear of Israel’s miraculous delivery from Egypt at the sea? Wouldn’t they be awed? Inspired? Humbled?

The Midrash comments:


‘The nations heard and became enraged’ — When they heard that G-d lifted Israel [above its enemies], they became angry. G-d said to [the nations]: ‘How many kings have been appointed among you, yet my children (Israel) did not become enraged? … How many sovereign governments have been established among you, yet my children did not become angry? … Now [that Israel is ascendant] you are angry? … I will give you cause to be angry that you do not desire!’

The midrash calls out the nations for their own devilish hypocrisy and shameful double-standard. Every nation has the right to independence, sovereignty, security — except the nation of Israel? Where was your indignation when they were an oppressed minority in Egypt? Now that the Egyptians are under the foot of Israel, you shout about “war crimes”? Have the actions of the nations ever held a moral candle to those of Israel or the Jewish nation? Can any nation claim a superior record of the defense of human rights or contributions to the betterment of the condition of humanity than the Jews? Turn your words toward yourselves, you hypocritical fiends! For when you defend evil and point the finger of blame at those who are just, you invite that evil upon yourself.

How sad for the world that the lessons of history continue to be ignored.


והמבין יבין

The Upper Realm has one hundred gates (מאה שערים). Each gate has an opening from which flows a wellspring of blessing to the world. From there our forefather Isaac drew one hundred forms of blessing, from the Hundred Gates, from which blessing and bounty and Divine Emanation come forth to all creations. Therefore… the Tent of Meeting (in the Tabernacle) had one hundred foundation rings (אדנים)…  Every foundation ring had an opening to receive [blessing].

(שני לוחות הברית, פרשת תולדות, בשם ריקנאטי)