Emor 5783


Quarrelsome quorum quandaries[1]

ולא תחללו את-שם קדשי ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל אני יקוק מקדשכם
Do not profane My Holy Name, and I will be sanctified amongst the Children of Israel; I am Hashem Who sanctifies you[2]

A fundamental principle in Judaism is that declarations of holiness need a quorum[3]. In other words, kaddish, kedusha, Torah reading, the Kohanic blessings, and the like, all require ten adult male Jews be present. The idea is that when we sanctify Hashem’s name, it needs to be done in a public fashion, with a minimum of ten men. How do we know this? A rather ironic source.

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Shemos 5783


Sagely exegesis, suffering, and salty meat[1]

ויעבדו מצרים את-בני ישראל בפרך: וימררו את-חייהם בעבדה קשה בחמר ובלבנים ובכל-עבדה בשדה וגו’‏
The Egyptians worked the Jewish people with backbreaking labor. They embittered their lives with difficult labor, with bricks and mortar, and all the work of the field…[2]

Our Sages have a disagreement[3] about the significance of the Torah’s usage of the word בפרך, usually translated as backbreaking labor. One opinion says it’s a contraction of two words: בפה רך, a soft voice. Meaning, initially the Egyptians were very gentle in their subjugation of the Jews. They spoke softly with them, and even offered to pay them for their services. Once the Jews got used to manual labor, the Egyptians enslaved them. The other opinion reads the word literally, that they enslaved the Jews brutally and destroyed their bodies with backbreaking labor.

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