Well, this has been a busy week. As well as working on your Torah, I’ve been apprentice-master-ing–my sometimes-apprentice has winter break from her yeshiva, so she’s back being my apprentice, which means I’m spending a good deal of time supervising her.

I’ve got a number of other women I’m invested in in this way. It’s something to do with how, when I was trying to learn, I didn’t have much company–once I got knowledge and skills, I wanted to share them, so that I’d have company. (Also noble ideas about making the world a better place, etc, but that sounds kind of pretentious so we’ll put that bit in parentheses.) Three of them are working on Torah scrolls of their own now, and various others are engaged in repair and other projects.

So I didn’t get time to write the history of the alef-bet post I wanted to write, but the world is an incrementally better place because of my apprentice. Good trade?

Instead, I’m going to share some thoughts that came into my head as I was writing the parsha, Vayechi.

When I’m writing, I’m paying some attention to the content as it goes through my fingers. If I’m studying Torah, I’m thinking about it in an intellectual way; when I’m writing, it’s more of a musy kind of thinking.

The exception to this is when it’s poetry. There you are, scribing along, and suddenly you don’t understand more than half the words. This is how you know you’re in a poem. The translations and the printed chumashim use layout to denote poetry–that and the sudden slew of footnotes “Meaning of Hebrew uncertain”, so it’s not just me that gets confused.

Since I want to understand what I’m writing, poetical bits usually go slower because every few words I’m referring to a translation or a dictionary.

This bit in particular struck me, this time round:

Dan shall govern his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent by the road,
A viper by the path,
That bites the horse’s heels
So that his rider is thrown backward.

I wait for your deliverance, O Lord! (Genesis 49:16-18)

Check out Rashi there, if you’re wondering what on earth that’s all about. Lots of stuff about Samson.

Just made me chuckle, though–here’s Jacob saying semi-prophetical things to his sons, and the basic meaning of this part is “Dan will be a judge. Of sorts. God help us all.”

Mirrored from hasoferet.com.

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February 2017

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