One of the most important hermeneutical paradigms introduced by the early and medieval rabbis is a belief that the Scriptures contain more than one layer of exegetical meaning. This intertextual approach came to be known during the medieval era by the acronym פַּרְדֵּס”PaRDeS,” standing for “Peshat,” “Remaz,” “Derash,” and “Sod.” Briefly defined, peshat is based on the literal and factual meaning of a verse and roughly corresponds to the medieval concept of sensus literalis as developed by the medieval ...Learn More Share
What is the meaning of וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים of Genesis 1:2? Older translations read, “Spirit of God” (rûah °élöhîm) while newer translations seem to prefer “a wind of God,” or a “mighty wind . . . “
Both readings are plausible. The term רוּח (rûah) connotes a moving power that is both mysteriously intangible and unseen; hence, “mighty wind” is an apt metaphor. When read in this context, °élöhîm is used not as a noun but ...Learn More Share
What is the significance of the “mark of Cain” (Gen. 4:15)?
The text does not identify exactly what the sign was. Historically, this passage has often served as a scriptural support for Christian persecution of the Jews. For Cain, this was a mark of God’s special loving care and protection. For Jerome’s contemporary, Augustine, this idea proved to be a fertile concept for his comparison of Cain to the Jews. Curiously, Augustine, said nothing about this mark serving as a protective ...Learn More Share
In honor of the new Torah reading cycle, I thought I would explain some thoughts about the parsha as it pertains to the miracle of Creation.
However, Ibn Ezra is less convinced and contends that the linguistic evidence does not support such an interpretation. The verb בָּרָא’ may also mean to fashion something out of already existing materials (e.g., the creation of man, whose body came from the dust of the earth, and whose soul issued forth from God’s breath). Ibn ...Learn More Share