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Salvia



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PostSubject: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:11 pm

I want to start to read the weekly parashot, but...How is it done? Do you read to whole parshah at once (that's a LOT to read!) or every day of the week a bit, like they see to suggest over here:
http://www.hebcal.com/sedrot/eikev
I know this sounds like a stupid question...I just need some how-to!

A linked question: when I looked the parshah of the week (ekev) up un my Bible, it started with a small dot just before the first line of the portion (Deuteronomy 7.12). Then it gives two dots just above 7.17, one dot above 8.1, and one above 8.19, and that's just one double-page. I never really bothered about these dots (although I have my bible since seven years, it never occured to me they might serve to something), but now I looked up in the back what they mean, because this first dot coincided with the beginning of the parshah.

The explanation given is not very helpful: apparently, one dot is for the Hebrew letter peh, two dots is for samech, and these letters serve as markers for where a new bit start: a peh/one dot divides the text in big bits, a samech/two fots into smaller bits.
But the samech-bits don't coincide with the way the parshah is divided in seven bits in the link I gave.

Do these two systems have anything that links them or am I asking two question about totally different things, or do these peh/samech marks only exist in the head of the translater of the bible :/

I'm not quite understanding what you are asking here. Perhaps someone else knows.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:04 pm

Salvia, I accidentally edited your post when I tried to reply. Darn it. That's the second time I've done that too! I only removed a line or two, so it should be fine.

Anyway, Do it however you like. If it's too much, break it up. If you want to read it all at once than do that. You don't need to get caught up in a perfect way to read it.

As for your question about dots, I'm not sure? I don't quite understand what you are asking but I'm sure someone else will know.
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:23 am

I believe the samech/peh -dots are explained here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parashah

doesn't make it much clearer to me what their use is, but I guess it doesn't matter very much :)

Thank you for you answer!
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:10 am

Actually, reading the whole parshah didn't prove too much: with a cup of coffee on one side and a plate of cookies on the other, I spent over an hour reading the text yesterday morning, because my mind wandered on every time over interpretations and associations and everything the text made me think of Razz

OK, reading a parshah takes time but it's not like I have many other thing to do on a shabbat morning, and it is very rewarding to take the time to do so intently, with full attention for the text you're reading :)
Let's see if I find the courage again next shabbat Very Happy
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searchinmyroots

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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:33 pm

In my opinion, you need to read the parsha as explained by a Rabbi. Someone who studied it over and over again. You'll most likely find different parts that are explained and sometimes even "different opinions".

I would never just try to read the whole parsha by itself without some sort of commentary.

So, as I see it, most of the time a certain part of the parsha is focused on. That doesn't mean the whole parsha isn't important, but as you stated you may not get much meaning by just reading it in its plain sense.

Just my opinion!
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:28 am

Oh, then it might be my protestant upbringing that made me read the parshah itself first, reflect on it, and then read the comment of the rabbi you left on the Hebrew Café forum. Indeed, he focused on other things than me. It must be my 'inner christian' that feels a bit uncomfortable by reading solely guided by an outer authority. Because religious authority should always be questioned, lest it will become mystical authorithy and will get between people and G-d. The whole idea of personal bible study, as I have learned, and I know, I'm not Jewish, but bible study is so much a part of my education that it is VERY difficult to get rid of old habits, is spiritual autonomy and forging your own bond with G-d based on your own insights. Which is not the same as stubbornly holding on to your own ideas: on the contrary, it means reading texts yourself, reading various commentaries, thinking on them and then building an opinion. An opinion always ready to be changed when you get further in your understanding. But everything starts with reading the source text YOURSELF. YOu can't base an opinion on something which you haven't read. Everybody has the right to 'converse', through the writings, with the big cheeses and agree or disagree with them. BUt not without reading the text and knowing the context of a certain quote you're discussing. d'oh Razz
I've been raised very much in the spirit that scripture has something to offer to everyone, and every time something else - that's why the bible is read over and over again, in protestant tradition. Because every bit of text has a thousand messages. The way a text speaks to you at a certain moment may be very personal. Reading just somebody else's interpretation would never give you this deeply personal layer.
Sorry, I know this sounds a bit violent. But I just hear the voice of my mother speaking in me now and getting all uptight by what you said...although I know you didn't meant anything like submitting yourself to religious authority and giving up intellectual and spiritual autonomy ;)


So...I hope it won't be taken bad that I mildly disagree with you. I have not so much knowledge of judaism, I know, and of course I aknowledge every rabbi knows better than me. So reading their comments is not only interesting, but of vital importance to advance in understanding.

But.. actually I'm quite attached to this idea of multiple interpretations and the power of scripture, because it is so rich and dense in meaning, to attract your attention every time you read a text to a certain bit, a phrase or a couple of phrases, to help you to gain new insight or to inspire you.

I read the entire parshah. But it's not like I've been interpreting the entire parshah. I just read it, and let my mind wander over it, and there were certain parts that spoke to me or reminded me of things, and I read them with more attention and allowed my mind to wander over them.
Commentaries are great, it is a privilige to be able to learn from those who know more than oneself. But imho that shouldn't keept one from trying to gain a bit more insight oneself, too.

Did I just disqualify myself as Jewish?


Last edited by Salvia on Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:16 am; edited 2 times in total
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:54 am

BTW this parshah actually contained the line my mother quotes most of all of the bible: deuteronomy 11 verse 13.
'You shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, soul and might, and don't do to others what you don't want to be done to you. That's what faith is about, that's all you REALLY need to know about the Bible'. Quoth my mum.
BUt that should not keep one from trying to study and think and discuss and interprete to reach for further understanding and to deepen one's bond with the Divine by bonding with the texts that are all about bonding with the Divine. Even if 'just' loving G-d and being nice to others is enough.
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Sarit

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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:31 am

Hey, Salvia! I think you can't essentially go wrong with reading parashat! I suppose everybody has/finds his/her own way of reading parashat. The goal, as I see it, is to be aware, as much as you can, of different historical and contemporary interpretations given by those days and today's rabbis and/or scholars, and also to give yourself a chance to delve into the text deeper and to find a way it speaks to yourself individually. So that's again a balance of collectivity (a layered body of knowledge through history) and individuality.

Typically, I start working with parashat from Wednesday (I don't know why Wednesday - it just happens that particular parashat start to catch my attention from the middle of the week onwards!). I roam around sites that I usually read, finding different interpretations (major sites of different denominations usually give the parashat interpretations, and sometimes you can also subscribe to their mailing lists and get that directly into your e-mail inbox!). After reading all that, I start to think what this means to me. And in that thinking the Shabbat comes and I hear that all again in the synagogue, sounding in my mind in a strange way of togetherness of a linear time (actual reading) and cyclical time (my thinking of all the earlier readings - readings as actual readings and readings as interpretations), which gives me sort of 3D impression and opens up a space for thinking through all these interpretations once again.

But everybody is different, so I vote again for searching for the best way to do it yourself, of course, with the help of the vast body of previous interpretations! ;)
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:45 am

:) I totally get what you say with the 3D-reading!
I don't know what the best order would be, as in, where to start, but I also think the ideal is a good balance between studying interpretations and personal reflection. I think that as I go further and get into the routine of reading parashat, I will also find my personal balance between reflecting on the text itself and studying interpretations!
Balance...is a tricky thingy ;)
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:09 pm

It's Chabad, but this site breaks it into daily readings that are much easier to tackle. I tend to read it in English first, and then try to make my way through it sounding out the Hebrew.
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:29 pm

James wrote:
It's Chabad, but ...

What's wrong with Chabad anyway? Their website is one of the first on Judaism I studied and it motivated me to look further and try to learn more. I'm a bit puzzled about all the critique they get, they are all kosher, no? Although I must say I avoid the parts where they talk about their rebbe and stuff, exactly for the reasons I gave in my answer to SMR.

On topic: you talk about a website, but you don't provide a link :)

ps, speaking of Chabad: http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/410672/jewish/What-Were-Up-Against.htm
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searchinmyroots

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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:08 pm

Salvia wrote:



So...I hope it won't be taken bad that I mildly disagree with you. I have not so much knowledge of judaism, I know, and of course I aknowledge every rabbi knows better than me. So reading their comments is not only interesting, but of vital importance to advance in understanding.

But.. actually I'm quite attached to this idea of multiple interpretations and the power of scripture, because it is so rich and dense in meaning, to attract your attention every time you read a text to a certain bit, a phrase or a couple of phrases, to help you to gain new insight or to inspire you.

I read the entire parshah. But it's not like I've been interpreting the entire parshah. I just read it, and let my mind wander over it, and there were certain parts that spoke to me or reminded me of things, and I read them with more attention and allowed my mind to wander over them.
Commentaries are great, it is a privilige to be able to learn from those who know more than oneself. But imho that shouldn't keept one from trying to gain a bit more insight oneself, too.

Did I just disqualify myself as Jewish?

No, actually you may very well qualify. They say, 2 Jews, 3 opinions.


Maybe I should have said it in a different way. I don't necessarily think reading the parsha by yourself is a bad thing. I guess what I meant to say is that you can get so many different perspectives and deeper meaning by reading the commentary. Many times they explain what certain Hebrew words mean that can be much different than a translation. Other times they can relate certain verses to other parts of the Tanach that I never would have associated it with.

SO I guess I regress. Yes, you can most certainly read the parsha on your own. But if you want to open up your world to things you may never have been able to see before, then the commentary can give you tremendous insight.

And YES, you most certainly can take something out of it from your own perspective as it may speak to you in a different way than it speaks to others. In the Torah class I attend we give our "opinions" based on what we read in the English translation. Many times the rabbi might correct us by letting us know the English translation isn't really what the word means.

So what I am also saying is that sometimes we have to be careful by bringing our own thoughts into  it if we really don't understand the language. Of course if you know biblical Hebrew, then things might be different.

Thanks for the reply! I think it helps the discussion!
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:20 pm

James wrote:
It's Chabad, but this site breaks it into daily readings that are much easier to tackle. I tend to read it in English first, and then try to make my way through it sounding out the Hebrew.

And I just read commentary alone. I have some weird habits. Razz 
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:19 pm

Salvia wrote:
What's wrong with Chabad anyway? Their website is one of the first on Judaism I studied and it motivated me to look further and try to learn more. I'm a bit puzzled about all the critique they get, they are all kosher, no? Although I must say I avoid the parts where they talk about their rebbe and stuff, exactly for the reasons I gave in my answer to SMR.

Nothing, in particular. But they do tend to be far more orthodox than many, and some people balk at anything presented from them.
Personally, I like a lot of what they have on-line.

Quote :
On topic: you talk about a website, but you don't provide a link :)

ps, speaking of Chabad: http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/410672/jewish/What-Were-Up-Against.htm
Doh! Sorry about that.

http://www.chabad.org/parshah/torahreading.asp?tdate=7/29/2013
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:40 pm

Some comments on the Hebcal webpage you referenced at the beginning: I use this excellent website all the time because I chant Torah ("leyn" in Yiddish) about once or twice a month for my minyanim. I really ought to make a contribution to the owner of the website because I get so much use from it. The website shows the traditional Torah sections that are read each Shabbat morning. On Shabbat afternoon and Monday and Thursday mornings typically just the first regular Shabbat reading is split it into three shorter parts.

Note that since some years have a leap month (a second "Adar) and sometimes holidays interrupt the progression through the Torah with special readings, which portions are read each week varies from year to year. There are some parshiyot that are sometimes combined together so that two are read for a given Shabbat. For example, August 31 is Parashat Nitzavim-Vayeilech, whereas last year, those two parshiyot were read on separate weeks.

Sometimes the parashah in Israel can be different from the parashah in the Diaspora because traditional Jews observe the extra days of Yom Tov in Diaspora (such as eight days of Pesach instead of just a week in Israel) which can cause the readings to become different for awhile.

The good thing about reading from the traditional Torah section every week is that since Jews all over the world are reading the same section, you can find lots of commentary posted on the Internet about that section of Torah. That is the main reason why Conservative Jewish congregations who choose the shorter "triennial cycle" do it the way it is shown in Hebcal with readings from the first third of each parashah for one year, then readings from the middle part of the parashah the next year, and finally readings from the last third of the parashah. This means that the Torah is not read through consecutively, but the congregations are at least still reading from the same part of the Torah as traditional congregations.

Several years ago, my "tiny minyan" reluctantly scaled back to doing only triennial cycle readings instead of the full kriyah. With only about a dozen Torah readers, and only a few of them able to read the longer regular readings (for example, I am only comfortable doing short readings of 10 verses or less), it just became too burdensome on the readers, particularly the good ones. Since the vowels and trope marks (for the chanting) are not marked in the Torah, most Torah readers need a reasonable time to prepare. I have known only a few people who are skilled enough to do a reasonable job of chanting a Torah reading without preparation. As it is, that minyan's best Torah reader almost never has a Shabbat where he isn't needed to read Torah. The benefit of the triennial cycle is that there are so many super short readings that it makes it easier for beginners. The benefit for me of having such a needy congregation is that it pushes me to keep leyning and I'm getting better with practice. I don't leyn as much for my other minyan because there are plenty of people who can do it much better than me and with much shorter notice (I need at least two weeks prep time unless I've read the portion before).
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:21 pm

Hello Debbie!
Thanks for the explanation :) It is very interesting!
I hadn't understood this triennal cycle, but given that for the moment I read in my native language, I can read the whole parshah ;)

Does 'leyn' actually mean 'to read'? The word sounds familiar to me.

And I didn't know the vowels weren't marked in classical Hebrew: I thought it was more a feature of modern Hebrew. And a very annoying one at that *grunt*. Silly me!

Do we already have a topic that lists parshah commentaries on different sites? Would be a nice one, otherwise :)
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:03 pm

Wikipedia says:
Quote :
In Yiddish the word is leynen 'read', derived from Latin legere, giving rise to the Jewish English verb "to leyn".

The dots inside and above and below Hebrew letters and little marks like the tiny dashes and "T's" below the letters are explained in this article:
"Niqqud"
Quote :
In Hebrew orthography, niqqud or nikkud (Hebrew: נִקּוּד, Modern nikud Tiberian niqqûḏ ; "dotting, pointing" or Hebrew: נְקֻדּוֹת, Modern nekudot Tiberian nəquddôṯ ; "dots") is a system of diacritical signs used to represent vowels or distinguish between alternative pronunciations of letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Several such diacritical systems were developed in the Early Middle Ages.

These days the dots are used only for children's beginning reader texts and for ritual texts such as siddurim or Chumashim (Torah in a bound book) or cards or booklets with "Birkat Hamazon" (prayer after eating a full meal with bread). Books or newspapers for grown-ups do not have vowels. Since the vowels can change in a word for grammatical reasons, sometimes I can understand but would mispronounce written Hebrew without vowels because I don't know enough grammar. When I learn a Torah reading, I have to memorize what many of the vowels are, and they can even be different for the same word in different verses in the reading. I have heard that native Israelis don't always know the right vowels either (particularly the ones that sound the same in modern Hebrew) so many Israeli high school students find that to be a aspect to be a difficult part of the national exams have to take.

The niqqud and also the "trop" (symbols for the chanting tune) are not marked on a Sefer Torah scroll.
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:10 pm

Thanks! I know the niqqud form my 'teach yourself modern Hebrew' book, but I didn't know they were omitted in a Sefer Torah.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Parashot -how to? + 'dots'   Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:26 pm

Back to the reference to dots for beginning and ending sentences:

If you are looking at Torah text in a book with vowels (and maybe trope), then you will see that each verse ends in something that looks like a colon. Those punctuation marks are also missing in a the calligraphy of a Torah scroll, so Torah readers may also need to learn where the end of the verses are in cases where it is not obvious. In my minyanim, even people who know Hebrew well sometimes switch an "etnachta" (looks like a tiny wishbone under a letter and is used like a comma or semi-colon) for a "sof pasuk" (looks like a colon and is the equivalent of a period), or visa versa. The reason is that Biblical Hebrew sometimes seems to have a different idea of what a sentence is than any modern language I know. Maybe Modern Hebrew is like this too, but I haven't read enough modern Hebrew to know. If you look in a Chumash with a translation and each verse marked with a number, you can sometimes see where a number is in the middle of a sentence or there is no number at the end of a translated sentence.

I don't know of any marks for the beginning of a Hebrew sentence (and there is no equivalent to "capitalization" of Roman letters), so I think you were just seeing vowel/letter distinction dots.  An example is שׁ with a dot on the right branch which makes the letter sound like "sh"; while שׂ with a dot on the left branch sounds like "s", although a dot on the left branch could also be a vowel dot that sounds like a hard "o".  

Hebrew writing is very different from European language writing. Kind of cool though, don't you think?

Here is a link to an example of what the writing on a Torah scroll looks like:
url=http://www.ajudaica.com/item/2022_308/Ashkenaz-Torah-Scroll-Ktav-Ari
You can see in the above image the little "crowns" that are put on some letters when they are in a Torah scroll.
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