Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Periodical: Jewish Bible Quarterly XXXVII:3 (147)

(Please bear with me as I catch up on periodicals over the next week or so)

The July-September 2009 issue of Jewish Bible Quarterly:

  • Moonlit Leadership: A Midrashic Reading of Joshua's Success by R. Hayyim Angel - Great explanation of the different leadership styles and impacts of Moshe and Yehoshua, based on textual cues and reflecting the midrash that Moshe was like the sun and Yehoshua was like the moon. As always, a great article by R. Angel.

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  • Lot's Failed Trial by Dr. Berel Dov Lerner - A speculative but thoughtful analysis of what Lot knew and was thinking as he was saved from Sodom.
  • Suicide in the Bible by Dr. Yael Shemesh - A comparison and contrast of the six suicides mentioned in the Bible, with some interesting conclusions. I think it could have used some halakhic discussion as well, but space was limited.
  • Critical Notes on Psalm 22:30 by Dr. Shaul Bar - A suggested interpretation of a difficult verse in Tehillim by making speculative textual emendations. Even if this isn't heretical, it makes me extremely uncomfortable.
  • Interpreting B-R-KH in Genesis 47 by Michael Alan Stein - Interesting attempt to analyze all uses of the root Barekh in Bereishis. I'm not quite sure if his findings are conclusive, but it's a good beginning.
  • At the Crossroads of Halakha and Narrative by Isaac Shalev - A clever midrashic analysis of the abortion passage (Ex. 21:22-25), connecting it to the story of Yaakov and Rachel running away from Lavan. Cute but far from peshat.
  • Life and Death in the Power of One's Tongue: The Case of the Son of Shelomith Bat-Dibri by (Reform) Rabbi Yossi Feintuch - Brief description of the dilemma facing the blasphemer (Lev. 24:10-12).
  • The Function of the Root Y-R-KH in Genesis by Dr. Ben Zion Katz - An interesting explanation of Yaakov's approach to deceit, based on the contextual meaning of the word Yerekh.
  • Serving God Out of Gratitude by Dr. Shubert Spero - Addresses the issue of why we need to serve God out of gratitude. This is the big question on the Chovos Ha-Levavos (Sha'ar Avodas Hashem) and Dr. Spero tries to show that it is really a biblical idea (oddly, he doesn't quote the Chovos Ha-Levavos). His conclusion is that it is some sort of natural law to respond in gratitude by fulfilling a request. I didn't find it compelling.
  • Seize the Moment by (Reform) Rabbi David J. Zucker - An interesting parallel between Yosef's and Yehudah's statements, and an application to everyday life.
  • Book Review: The Book of Genesis (by Sol Scharfstein) by Dr. Dan Vogel - I appreciated this review. When I first saw the book, I set it aside almost immediately as simplistically imprecise. Dr. Vogel explains what Scharfstein was trying to do and how he succeeded (and where he did not). I think I'll give the book a second look.

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