The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion - Vol. 2

The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion - Vol. 2

The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion - Vol. 2

The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion - Vol. 2


Rabbi Yitz Greenberg

This is the golden age of the parashat ha-shavua (weekly Torah portion) commentary. Once treated as ephemera, Torah commentaries are increasingly being published, studied, and returned to again and again. Important rabbis and scholars have written substantive, sophisticated essays. These, in turn, are read and discussed in many synagogues on Shabbat mornings, distributed by the thousands and tens of thousands to their followers via the Internet, and, sometimes, published in written form.

This only points up the remarkable achievement of R. Shai Held, whose parashat ha-shavua commentaries are gathered and published in this volume. When the history of rabbinic literature of this era is written, R. Held’s contributions will be acknowledged as the brightest stars in this new galaxy of Torah teaching. To paraphrase the classic Jewish joke, Shai is a captain among the captains of Torah wisdom in this age.

Why? What distinctive qualities make this work so rich and enriching?

It starts with his remarkable gift for a fresher and deeper peshat (plain-sense meaning) of the verse. See, for example, his exploration of the wide spectrum of meanings and expressions of the Fifth Commandment, “honor your father and mother”—including that the range includes extraordinary efforts to fulfill their wishes but does not spell automatic obedience. Similarly, he describes the many interpretive traditions of demands to meet parental needs and expectations— yet not to the point of parents thwarting their children’s well-being (Yitro #2). Consider his treatment of the Israelites’ complaint, “when we sat by the flesh pots, when we ate our fill of bread”—which in fact reveals that they could only look at the meat. Their masters would not let them eat from the flesh pots. Held adds that the passage not only reveals the retroactive rose coloring of the oppressive Egyptian experience, but also “illustrates the attraction of the regime of oppres-

Although he was the fifth child of what would be seven children, the family welcomed Horace. His parents, Kiowa George Poolaw and Tsomah, had lost a baby son a few months earlier. Kiowa George grieved greatly. He was a praying man, sweat-house doctor, bow and arrow maker, farmer, and a former U.S. cavalry scout in Troop L at Fort Sill Army Post in Lawton, Oklahoma. the arrival of Horace certainly eased some of the pain. Kiowa George married half sisters whose mother, Kaw-au-on-tay (Goose That Honks), was a Mexican captive. She had been captured in the early 1800s in Sonora, Old Mexico, by a Kiowa hunting party. Kaw-au-on-tay became so involved with the Kiowa that she was one of the last Ghost Dancers and participated in the last dance in 1923. Kiowa George eventually took both of her daughters as his wives. Kee-deem-kee-gah, Tsomah’s sister and Kiowa George’s first wife, had four children. All eleven children would grow up to be successful people pursuing vocations ranging from sports, to the military, and to religion.

Mountain View is a small town in southwest Oklahoma. the state was in its infancy when the Indian people experienced the effects of the Allotment Act. the Kiowa were one of many tribes that the government relocated to Oklahoma, wandering south from the Yellowstone area in Montana, following . . .

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