I’m going to camp!

I will be headed to URJ camp Eisner tomorrow. Due to the ‘Eisner bubble’ I will not be posting anything between now and August 17th. Keep studying Torah and I’ll be back the 17th with new ideas! (I hope)

By me, with help from G-d


Enjoy the use of the spoil of your enemy…

rak hanashim vhatof vhabheima vchol asher yihiyeh bair kol shelalah tavoz lach vachalta et shelal oyvecha asher natan Adonai eloheha lach

You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, the livestock, and everything in the town -all its spoil- and enjoy the use of the spoil of your enemy, which the Eternal your G-d gives you.

This is quite a disturbing and sexist verse. I understand that some sexist guys (occasionally those who go to my school) think of women as accessories and so think it obvious that they fall under the category of booty to be taken. Also, not that I’m in favor of them being killed instead, kids are the future and should not be treated as valuable items for trade or work. But G-d isn’t so much giving you the city, He’s offering an opportunity to get it. If G-d knocks down the walls and delivers you the city on a platter, then by all means go ahead because G-d seems to be only concerned with your pleasure here. But if you have to fight for it, even if you know you’ll win, then it is you, the armed forces, who have given it to Israel, even if G-d helped. G-d won’t give you something for nothing, but if you help,  He’s happy to help. So G-d isn’t giving the town to you, He’s helping you get it. So this little verse is here in part, because G-d knows that people are less afraid if they have something to work for.  And so less people are going to turn tail and run if they have something to look forward to, and you might actually be able to win a war by following G-d’s rules.

By me, with help from G-d

These Two (or possibly four, or six) Things Have Befallen You

Shtaim heinh korotaich mi yanud lach hashod v’hashever v’haraav v’haherev mi anachameich.

These two things have befallen you: Devastation, destruction — Who will console you? Famine and sword — who will comfort you?

This seems to me to be a whole lot more than two things. There’s devastation, destruction, famine, and the sword. I count four. So it looks like we need a midrash. Here is what I came up with. Devastation and destruction are large scale things that we use mostly in hindsight. Famine and violence are things that the average villager could identify with. So the two things are: Horrible life in overview and horrible life from day to day.

Here’s another view: The two things are “hashod v’hashever v’haraav v’haherev,” Devastation and destruction and famine and sword, and “mi yanud lachmi anachameich” Who will console you, who can comfort you. Part of the problem is the devastation etc., but part of the problem is also that there is no one to comfort Israel.

By me, with help from G-d, Papa and Mama


Words in Hebrew come from a 3 letter root, e.g. Melech-מֶלֶךְ-Mem, Lamed, Chaf.  So you can tell part of the meaning of the word by its root. For example, yimloch  must have something to do with being a ruler. One problem? The Israelites liked wordplay. So, for example, you might have two words like “built” and “understanding/insight/intuition” linked by the same root because someone thousands of years ago thought it was a good idea. So this is another one Rabbi Pincus noticed. Shalom, peace, is built from the same root as Shaleim, whole. this is because when you are at peace with yourself you feel kinda whole, like there isn’t anything missing. Kind of interesting. And I thought English was weird… 🙂

By me, with help from G-d and Rabbi Pincus