Madlik – Disruptive Torah thoughts from a post-orthodox Jew with a life-long love and appreciation of Jewish texts and a fresh and sometimes heterodox perspective on their meaning, intent and practical (halachic) implications.
Aleph Bet Revolution
Parshat Vayeilech - We review the septennial Hakhēl convocation where the Torah is read publicly as an opportunity to explore the revolutionary nature of the Hebrew Alphabet from both a social and technological perspective. In so doing, maybe we shed some light on the proliferation of alphabetical acrostics in the Psalms and later liturgy and piyyutim.
Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/346294
Geoffrey Stern 00:00
Welcome to Madlik disruptive Torah. We are every Friday at four o'clock here on clubhouse Eastern time. And we go ahead and record this. And then we post it as a podcast called Madlik. And it's available on all of your favorite podcasting channels. And if you like what you hear today, go ahead and listen to it as a podcast and share it with your friends, and give us a few stars and say something nice about us, in any case, this week portion Vayelech. And it's Deuteronomy 31, for the most part. And in Deuteronomy 31, verse nine, it says, "And Moses wrote down this teaching, and he gave it to the priest, sons of Levy, who carried the Ark of the Lord's covenant, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses instructed them as follows, every seventh year, the year set for shmitah, at the Feast of Booths, which will start in another week or two, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, you shall read this teaching aloud, in the presence of all Israel, gather the people, men, women, children, and the strangers in your communities that they may hear. And so learn to revere the Lord your God, and to observe faithfully every word of this teaching. Their children too who have not had the experience shall hear and learn to revere the Lord your God, as long as they live in the land that you are about to cross the Jordan to possess." And then a few verses down, it finishes off by saying, "When Moses had put down in writing, the words of this teaching to the very end "ad tumam" , Moses charged the Levites to carry the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord saying, Take this book of teaching and place it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, and let it remain there as a witness against you." So Wow, this is a pretty fundamental law, it touches upon a public reading of the Torah, it touches upon the seventh year, the cycle of the shmita, of the sabbatical year that we are starting as we speak. And it also talks about placing that Torah scroll, if you will, into the ark right next to the 10 commandments. So rabbi, what says this to you?
Adam Mintz 02:47
So I want to go to the end, it's so interesting that the Torah scroll plays a role here, it all seems to be about strengthening our commitment to Torah and to God, and therefore everything has a Torah scroll that is right in the middle of it. And I think that's really, really interesting. At the end of each shmita cycle, they used to gather all the people in Jerusalem, the men, the women, the children, and the king used to read the Torah. So really, even the sabbatical year, is about strengthening our commitment to Torah.
Geoffrey Stern 03:28
I totally agree. But I have to confess that when I tell people, and I've been telling everybody I can, trust me, that this is the sabbatical year, unlike the Sabbath that occurs every seven days. And I'd like to think, we can discuss this on another afternoon. I'd like to think it was one of the Jews greatest contributions to culture and society, a day of rest. It's actually a statement of human rights because you rest your servants rest to animals were at rest, that everybody kind of gets whether they keep the Sabbath on a Saturday or Sunday or a Friday, or they just understand they have to reboot once in a while. But the idea of the seventh year cycle, the sabbatical that has only really survived in academia. And I hope it's still the case wher
Not in Heaven
parshat nitzavim (deuteronomy 30)
Join Geoffrey Stern, Rabbi Adam Mintz and Theatre Director and Professor Michael Posnik in a live recording of Madlik Clubhouse as they explore the verse in Deuteronomy 30 that proclaims that the Torah is not in Heaven. We explore it in context and in the agada. We take a literary journey into the iconic story of the oven of akhnai.
Sefaria source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/345182
Geoffrey Stern 00:00
This week's parsha is nitzavim and you are listening to Madlik weekly disruptive Torah. And by disruptive, we mean Torah that hopefully makes you think about the Torah slightly differently, from a new angle, with a fresh pair of lenses, revisit old friends, as I often do, or meet new characters, new stories and react to them in a fresh way. And we record this clubhouse, and we post it as a podcast on all of your favorite podcasting platforms. So if you miss it, or if you want to share it with somebody, if you want to give us a few stars and a nice review, go check out Madlik. And so we want to get started, this is actually a very special week, because it's the last Shabbat, the last week of the year. So we have to finish dramatically. And today, I'd like to say this is the dramatic version of Madlik because we are going to be discussing a story in the Agadda, which is the material, I think I know it's been made into a play. But who knows, it could be even a movie coming to a theater near you, because it has so many turns to it. And so many different characters with character flaws and a storyline that is engaging. So, let us begin, we are reading from Deuteronomy 30. And the Torah says, speaking about the Torah, it says "It is not in the heavens that you should say, who amongst us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us that we may observe it. Neither is it beyond the sea that you should save Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us that we may observe it." So it seems to be a pretty straightforward sense of the Torah is here. You don't have to go far. What do you think Rabbi is the straightforward meaning of "Lo Bashamayim Hi", that the Torah our teaching our tradition is not in heaven, and it's not on the other side of the sea,
Adam Mintz 02:36
Firs tof all Geoffrey, thank you so much. It's a great parsha to end the year with. I think what it means is that the best excuse you can give his Torah is too hard observance is too hard tradition are too hard. Tradition is for the Super religious, for the people who can appreciate all of this. The answer is absolutely not. It's not in heaven. It's not far away. It's in our hearts and inside our mouths, it's up to us. It's right there. For us. It's the word I like to use in this portion is it's accessible. And we have to remember the Torah is accessible. If Torah is accessible, then we can we can reach it also.
Geoffrey Stern 03:21
I agree with you totally. And I would read translate the phrase "Lo Bashamayim hi" that it is not in heave as it's not in the sky. In other words, I think if you look at the two verses together, one says it's not up in the sky. And the other says it's not beyond the sea. It's very temporal. It's saying you don't have to go look anywhere else. You don't have to go on a trip, you don't have to go on an experience. You don't have to go find yourself a yogi. And I think in the Devarim Raba, it gives a bunch of explanations, but one says "it is not in heaven". They said to Moses, our teacher, but hey, you said to us it's not in heaven. It's not in the other side of the sea. But where is it? He said to them in the place that is close in your mouths in your hearts to do it. It is not far from you. It is close to you all." And I think that's exactly what you were saying. It's almost to say, you know, people searche
parshat ki tavo (Deuteronomy 26) a recording of a discussion between Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz on Clubhouse as they explore the roots of the concept of the Chosen People looking at the Favored sons and wives of Genesis and at the concept of Covenant and antecedent Hittite suzerainty treaties. Join us as we ask whether Tevya was right and should God choose someone else for a change?
Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/343219
Geoffrey Stern 00:00
This is Madlik, and we do disruptive Torah, which means that we look at one specific verse or thought in the weekly portion, and maybe look at it with new eyes, new lenses, and maybe taking it in a new direction that's not totally traditional, or that is not the one that we all grew up with. But today, I'm hoping to be very interactive, because the subject matter today cuts to the core of the Jewish project. And that is this question of being a chosen people. And my guess is that whether personally, or as a part of the Jewish people, all of us have, in one way or the other had to address what it means to be chosen, and therefore should have an opinion, on what chosen is, and and that opinion can go all the way from, it's a wonderful thing to it's probably the worst idea that we ever had. And I think Tevya summed it up very well, as he many times does. And he turned to God and he said, "Dear God, couldn't you choose someone else for a change?", because he understood the dark side of being chosen. But in any case, we begin on Deuteronomy, chapter 26: 18-19. And what will be surprising is how rare it is, for Chosenness, to even be mentioned. So it says, and the Lord has affirmed this day that you are as he promised you, his treasured people, "Am Segula", who shall observe all his commandments, and that he will set you in fame and renown and glory, high above all the nations that he has made, and that you shall be as he promised a holy people to the Lord your God." So in this one verse, we have this rare mention of "Am Segula", and I'll explain how rare it is. It only occurs in four other verses in the five books of Moses, we have a linkage to observing the commandment. So there's an obligatory aspect of being chosen. And then to us moderns, I think we have the most challenging part of being chosen. And that is that he will set you in fame and renown and glory high above all the nations. And that is the triumphalism, the exclusionism, of what it means to be chosen. And then it finishes and says that you will be a holy people. So I'm going to start with you, Rabbi.
Adam Mintz 02:58
So thank you, Geoffrey. It's a great topic. And I wonder about the relationship between being chosen, and being holy, the Torah tell us in the book of Vayikra (Leviticus), that we should be holy, "Kidoshim Tehiyu" . And the question is, does God choose us because we're holy? Or does God choose us, in spite of the fact that we're not always holy? Now, first of all, I think we need to break this down an to say, what does it mean to be holy? Rashi says, on the verse that says we should be holy, holy means to be separate Holy means to recognize that we're not like everybody else. We don't do like everybody else all the time. Sometimes we have to be different. We need to be holy, we need to be seperate. But what's interesting, and this is an idea that's emphasized on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. That is the idea of the promise that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that promises that even though you're not always holy, even though you're not always going to do the right thing, I have chosen you to be my people. I have chosen you to be my people in good times and bad times. In return for that, you choose me to be your God. So I think I'd like to talk about that today. And that's the idea. Does God choose us even when we don't deserve to be chosen? And I think what's am
Listening to the lyrics of Jewish Law
Parshat Ki Teitzei - When was the last time you listened to the lyrics, poetry and sounds of the mitzvot? Join Geoffrey Stern, Rabbi Adam Mintz and special guest poet, Haim Nachman Bialik in a live recording of our weekly disruptive Torah on Clubhouse. We are told that there never was nor never will be a case of the Biblical Rebellious Son and that we are simply to be rewarded for its study. We explore how all of the commandments provide similar rewards for those willing to listen to their lyrical nature.
Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/342083
Madlik is weekly disruptive Torah on clubhouse. But we record every week. And we then publish as a podcast. And we're available on all of the major podcast platforms. And you are welcome to give us a few stars and give us a review. And this week, I want to thank our faithful listener Bob, for doing just that giving us some stars, five stars, you can't get better than that, and a beautiful review. So thank you, Bob. And I invite all of you even if you've been on the clubhouse, to check out Madlik on your favorite podcast platform, and give us a review and a few stars and thank you for that. So this week, the name of the Parsha is Ki Teitzei and as Rabbi Adam said in the introduction, it has more commandments more Halachot and mitzvot than any other parsha. And I am only going to focus on one Halacha and it might be considered the most unique Halacha in the Torah and before I tell you why it's unique. Let me read it to you. It's called Ben sorer u'morer otherwise known as the Rebellious Son, and it goes as follows in Deuteronomy 21. "If a man has a wayward and defiant son, who does not heed his father or mother and does not obey them, even after they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the public place of his community. They shall say to the elders of his town, this son of ours is disloyal and defiant. He does not heed us. He is a glutton and a drunkard, thereupon the men of his town shall stone him to death. Thus you will sweep out evil from your midst, all Israel will hear and be afraid." Boy, that's a powerful one, especially this week when we are reading about the Taliban. It certainly brings parallel to a very fundamentalist strict notion of the law and how one keeps people observant. So why is this unique? It's unique because the Talmud in Sanhedrin says that there has never been, and there will never be a ben sorer u'morer; a rebellious son, it was given to us this halacha, this law, this practical injunction was given to us so that we made "darosh umekabel schar" we may expound and receive reward. So first of all, Rabbi, is this a mainstream opinion? Or is this a unique opinion? And what's at issue here?
So, first of all, it's a great topic. I mean, there's nothing like ben sorer u'morer. The idea that you have a wayward son, and that you put him to death, actually, before he commits any crime, because better he should die innocent than die guilty. That the first point which is amazing. But the second point is that it never happened. And the reason we studied isDrosh vekabel schar, which really I would translate to mean, let's learn a lesson from it. What lessons can you learn from how you handle a rebellious son? But it happens to be Geoffrey that if you go on in that Gemora, the opinion of Robbie Yochanan, who was a rabbi who lived in Israel in Tiberius, around the year 400, he says, quote, "ani rei'iti" I saw a wayward son in my life, "veyashavti al kivro". And I sat on his grave, meaning it did happen. And he was punished. So actually, there were two opinions. I don't know which opinion is more prevalent. But there were two opinions. One opinion is it never happened.... And one opinion is yes it happened, and I saw it with my own eyes, an
You Are Not My Boss
A live recording of Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz as they explore the Torah’s visceral disgust for the monarchy and how this rejection sheds light on the New Year Festival and it’s powerful message.
Link to Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/340788
This week's parsha is Shoftim. And it is the first time that the Jewish people ask for a king. And so I'm just going to go ahead and read Deuteronomy 17. Because this is the first time that not only is the Jewish people asking for a king, but frankly, we'll see in our discussion. kingship is not that much emphasized throughout the Bible till now. So again, we start almost like last week, trying to put it in the context of entering the land. It says, "If after you have entered the land, that the Lord your God has assigned you and taken possession of it, and settled in it, you decide, I will set a king over me, as do all the nations about me, you shall be free to set a king over yourself, one chosen by the Lord your God, be sure to set as a king over oneself one of you own people, you must not set a foreigner over you who is not your kinsmen. And then it goes on to further limit what the king can do, you shall not keep many horses, or send people back to Egypt to add to his horses, since the Lord has warned you, you must not go back that way again. You shall not have many wives, you shall know amass silver and gold in excess, he shall have a copy of the teaching of the Torah written for him on a scroll, and he shall read it regularly. And then it goes on to say, thus he will not act haughtily toward his fellows, or deviate from the instruction to the right. or to the left." We've seen many times where the Jewish people have gone to Moses, whether as a group or individuals and asked for exceptions to the rule. But I think this one is really striking, in that if you had to give one argument to Moses, or God, I think the last thing you would ever say is, I want to do something because the nations around me are doing it. I mean, that is a really bad strategy, seeing as so much of what Moses and God are trying to do is to create a distinctive narrative. But sure enough, that's what they do. And then God goes ahead and says, or, the Bible says you can have it, and then gives a bunch of limitations. So what is your read on this Rabbi, what what is going on here? Is this totally unique in terms of the type of give and take that we've seen, when the Bible, the Torah is being tweaked as the rubber hits the pavement and the Jews come into the land of Israel?
First of all, thank you, Geoffrey, this is a great topic. And I think that you really hit on something that's so important, the uniqueness of the message of the Torah. And the fact that the Jews want to be like everybody else. You see, think about it for a minute. The Jews were slaves in Egypt, they've been 40 years in the desert. That is the unique story. Nobody else has the story. And finally, after all of this, 40 years of the desert, and all the all the trouble and all the this and all the that they finally have a chance to be like everybody else. Wow, what an amazing opportunity to be like everybody else. And they kind of slip up, because they tell God, hey, God, we want to be just like everybody else. And God basically says (the story doesn't play itself out here until the book of Samuel) then you're not like everybody else. And you can't have a king, because God is the only king that you have. But the fact that the Jews want to be like everybody else really tells you what they've been thinking for 40 years. Enough is Enough of all these miracle stories. We just want to be regular people.
You know, there's another clue here, where it says, "Do not keep many horses, or send people back to Egypt to add to the horses, because I have warned you You mu
Kashrut, Yashrut and the Flesh of Desire
A live Clubhouse recording of Geoffrey Stern and Rabbi Adam Mintz as we explore the origins of ritual slaughter, the implicit bias of the Torah to vegetarianism and the origins and limitations of carnivorism in Judaism. We also highlight the contribution of Judaism of mindfulness when it come to our food supply and where we go from here.
Sefaria Source Sheet: www.sefaria.org/sheets/340004
So welcome to Madlik disruptive Torah and this week is Parshart Re'eh and in two, little verses it pretty much makes the only biblical reference. And maybe not even a reference but a kind of an allusion to laws that practicing Jews take very, very seriously. And that is the laws of kashrut; of slaughtering animals. And I must say that when I first stumbled upon this, I was amazed by how little is there. So let's jump right into it. It's Deuteronomy 12. And it says, "When the Lord enlarges your territory, as he has promised you, and you say, I shall eat some meat, for you have the urge to eat meat, you may eat meat, whenever you wish. If the place where the Lord has chosen to establish His name is too far from you, you may slaughter any of the cattle or sheep that the Lord gives you, as I have instructed you, and you may eat to your heart's content in your settlements." So clearly, this was written at a point where if you take it into the context that it's supposed to be written in, which is when the Jews were first coming into the land, and they where already understanding that they were going to enlarge, they already somehow had an intuition that there was going to be a centralized temple. And that's what the references to the place where the Lord has chosen to establish his name. But what is assumed here is that, number one, you can only eat meat in that chosen place at the temple. And as many of you know from the Passover sacrifice, that was a sacrifice that sacrificed to God, but eaten by a group of people. So eating of meat, one can assume there was a time where you could only eat it around the temple. And here is the permission to eat it if you're too far away to eat it in the temple. And it doesn't give any rules for slaughtering it. It just says an illusion, "as I have instructed you" Kasher Tziviticha. So I'm going to stop now, before we dive into the many nuances of this. But rabbi, what what did these two sentences mean to you?
Well, the first thing is very important again, that meat was only eaten as part of the sacrifices, meat was considered to be a tremendous luxury. You couldn't eat it just be yourself. It had to be part of religious of religious experience. That's a huge transition from eating meat as part of a sacrifice to eating meat for dinner and having a hamburger, having a barbecue at home. That might have been the biggest transition that the Jews experienced when they entered the land
I think you're correct.... both when they entered the land, and possibly when they first entered the land with a traveling tabernacle. And before the temple was built. This also and I kind of alluded to, we don't know exactly when it was written, you know, when there was a tabernacle in Shilo. And there were other places that had these tabernacles the religion was more distributed. But when it became centralized in Jerusalem at the temple, that was also a moment just like coming into the promised land was a moment. And so what we're seeing is ..... as if we didn't know that the practice of Judaism evolve .... clearly evolved, whether from the days of the desert into the promised land, or from the days when it was a decentralized tribal conglomerate to when it becomes centralized in Jerusalem. But I want to focus for a second on a word used. The English is "if you desire" "you may eat meat when you have the urge to eat meat." In the Hebrew it's "Ochla basar ki
The best weekly Torah
Distributive Torah is just the beginning of what this podcast adds to my life. Each week listening to Geoffrey and Rabbi Mintz discussing the weekly portion brings new approach and ideas to the known test. It’s the best part of the week and great beginning to shabbat.
I am biased. Geoffrey is my cousin.
But he is a learned man with a passion for Torah study and an unusual background and perspective. He opens up an appreciation of the humaneness and twists and turns of the Text.
He is a great teacher and I always come away with some spark of enlightenment. Thank you Geoffrey for creating Madlik
Interesting podcast even for non-jews.
This podcast is interesting even for a Gentile!
Content and perspective relating to the challenges of applying and adapting tradition and Torah text to modern changes / evolution in culture are especially interesting — like the latest episode on inter-marriage.
Some of the thoughts on dealing and adapting are relevant across the board in multiple contexts: religion / life / business.