In this episode: Psalms 20-23.
We continue in the Psalms with some thoughts about the tragedy of the commons.
And ICYMI, here's that 1968 article by ecologist Garret Hardin about how breeders are wrecking the planet.
In this week’s episode: Hosea 4-7. We continue in the Book of Hosea with some thoughts about prophets and ritualized insults.
Matt Fidler's Very Bad Words episode about the Dirty Dozens can be found here.
And I heard this epic Yo Momma joke just the other day...
Yo Momma so fat, Thanos had to snap twice.
In this week’s episode: Ezekiel 44-48. We conclude the book of Ezekiel with some thoughts about equalization and reparation.
And ICYMI, you can read the alarming and depressing "The Road to Zero Wealth" by Chuck Collins, Dedrick Asante-Muhammed, Emanuel Nieves, and Josh Hoxie here.
AND if you’re interested in the argument as to why black Americans deserve even more than repayment for slavery, read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ "The Case for Reparations” here.
In this week’s episode: Ezekiel 36-39. We continue in the book of Ezekiel with some thoughts about non-zombies and the apocalypse.
And, in case y'all don't believe me about Dubya talking to Jaques Chirac about Gog and Magog, you can read the items in the Atlantic, Mother Jones and Foreign Policy for yourselves. #Truth.
In this week’s episode: Ezekiel 28-31. We continue in the book of Ezekiel with some thoughts about the mighty and their ultimate fate.
And, ICYMI Americans, you can read about how the "American Dream" has moved to Canada here.
In this week’s episode: Ezekiel 24-27. We continue in the book of Ezekiel with some thoughts about all the things we do that make us human.
And ICYMI (which is a big shame on you!), you can listen to Dan Carlin's deep-dive into the Great War here.
And big, ongoing props to Rory and Chen, my patreons!
In this week’s episode: Ezekiel 20-23. We continue in the book of Ezekiel with some thoughts about various crucibles and Arthur Miller.
And ICYMI, you can find more Words of Torah Dripping with Sarcasm and Condescension from Rabbi Pinky Shmeckelstein here.
And once again, big thanks to my Patreon supporters Rory and Chen!
In this week’s episode: Ezekiel 12-15. We continue in the book of Ezekiel with some thoughts about virtue, role models and the inevitable disappointment.
And ICYMI, you can find the fine work of 929 here and the clip of the German dude NOT breaking through the ice here.
In this week’s episode: Jeremiah 48–52. We conclude the book of Jeremiah with some thoughts about failure and success as a prophet.
And let me take this opportunity to send out another big thank you to TanakhCast's patrons Rory and Chen!
In this week’s episode: Jeremiah 20-23. We continue in the book of Jeremiah with a consideration of who gets to apply force and how.
And ICYMI, here's the 2013 report on World Prison Populations. And here's the Prison Policy Initiative's 2017 report on mass incarceration.
In this week’s episode: Jeremiah 12-15. We continue in the book of Jeremiah with a consideration of racist language, feelings and snowflakes.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I realize that in the process of discussing the toxicity of the "K" word and other racial language, I used the "K" word. I said it out loud. Numerous times.
It is obviously a less loaded term to English speakers because it is in Hebrew... but nonetheless, not appropriate. If its use offended y'all, dear listeners, I apologize.
ICYMI, here's the hate-crimer from Oregon crying about being caught.
In this week’s episode: Jeremiah 1-3. We begin the book of Jeremiah with a consideration of names or nouns formed after a person.
And ICYMI, the Roman Mars and Helen Zaltzman's two-part collaboration about eponyms can be found here and Dan Carlin's Hardcore History about the Achaemenids can be found here.
In this week’s episode: Isaiah 24–27. We continue in the book of Isaiah with a consideration of chaos, order and what comes next.
And ICYMI, you can see the frontispiece for Leviathan in greater detail here or click on the image on the right. Same diff.
In this week’s episode: Isaiah 12–15. We continue in the book of Isaiah with a consideration of empathy and reveling in the suffering of others.
And ICYMI, the Atlantic piece about concepts that need a pithy word in English can be found here and the journal article about the connection between empathy and fremdschämen can be found here.
In this week’s episode: Isaiah 8-11. We continue in the book of Isaiah with a consideration of divine intervention, abstention and the mezuzah.
And ICYMI, here's the sketch (in Hebrew) about kissing the mezuzah from "The Jews are Coming".
In this week’s episode: Isaiah 4-7. We continue in the book of Isaiah with a consideration of contentious language and religious dogma.
And ICYMI from the 19th century, the record of the 43rd Congress where esteemed representatives argued about the very expensive misplaced comma.
In this week’s episode: Isaiah 1-3. We begin the book of Isaiah with an introduction to the Latter Prophets and a consideration of celebrity goodwill-making and its effectiveness.
ICYMI, here's proof that, despite the evening news, the world is getting better!
And here are the clips to all the benefit songs alluded to in this week's episode...
I would have embedded Northern Lights' "Tears Are Not Enough", but "embedding was disabled by request" so click here to watch Canada's pride sing for Africa. The same is true for Rene & Nathalie Simard / Celine Dion who sang "Les yeux de la faim" ("The Eyes of Hunger") so click here if you are so disposed.
In this week’s episode, a Book Club Spoiler Special with Dan Libenson, impresario and showrunner for The Secret Book of Kings. We discuss Yochi Brandes’ book and consider canon, innovation and living in transitional times.
In truth, we don't spoil all that much, but we could have if we wanted to!
You can learn more about The Secret Book of Kings (and even buy a copy) here.
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AND you can subscribe to Dan's podcast Judaism Unbound here or by clicking on the image below.
In this week’s episode: 2 Kings 12-15. We continue in the Second Book of Kings with a consideration of how the small move might achieve much more than the grand gesture.
And here's the link to Radiolab's "More Perfect" podcast about deliberate plaintiff selection.
And here's a piece from Biblical Archeology Review about the last round of legal shenanigans surrounding the Yoash Inscription.
In this week’s episode: 1 Kings 20-22. We conclude the Book of Kings with a consideration of satire and prophecy, or is it prophecy and satire?
And ICYMI, Jamelle Bouie's piece at Slate about Jon Stewart's (welcome) retirement.
In this week’s episode: 2 Samuel 8-12. We continue in the Book of Samuel 2: Die Harder with the tricky issue of consent.
And ICYMI, the New York Times article on affirmative consent and consent education can be found here.
In this week’s episode: 2 Samuel 4-7. We continue in the Book of 2 Samuel: Die Harder with a look at newly built capital cities and the practical and symbolic significance for the nations they represent.
In this week’s episode: Samuel 28-31.
We conclude the Book of Samuel with a look at Shaul’s final days as king and living person and why the Tanakh, though highly critical of it, doesn't aggressively debunk sorcery.
In this week’s episode: Samuel 16-19.
We continue in the Book of Samuel with an examination of the age-old tradition of single combat.
And ICYMI, Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker piece on David and Goliath.
In this week’s episode: Samuel 12-15.
We continue in the Book of Samuel with an examination of royal missteps and political apologies.
And ICYMI, here's Jack Marshall's hierarchy of political apologies.
In this week’s episode: Samuel 8-11.
We continue in the Book of Samuel with an examination of what makes a leader then and now.
Here's one of Green Lantern’s Guardians of the Universe who, you must admit, does look a lot like David Ben Gurion.
And here's the piece by Slate's David Greenberg about the Nixon-Kennedy debate.
In this week’s episode: Samuel 4-7.
We continue in the Book of Samuel with an examination of the Tanakh’s attempt to give non-Jewish characters some depth and texture - and inadvertent coarseness.
And ICYMI, "The Rule" from Alison Bechdel's comic Dykes To Watch Out For.
In this week’s episode: Judges 17-21.
We conclude the Book of Judges with an examination of two stories which best demonstrate the fraying of the social fabric in a time when “there was no king in Israel [and] Every man did what was right in his own eyes.”
In this week’s episode: Judges 12-16. We consider Shimshon the most unjudgy of judges who carries himself like Hercules but is as tricksy as a monkey all the while outsmarting and sticking it to the Man in Philistia.
In this week’s episode: Judges 8-11. We continue in the Book of Judges with an examination of stories which make demands of their listeners, and how a little work of unpacking goes a long way in internalizing the meaning.
In this week’s episode: Judges 4-7. We are joined by provocateur and rabbinic trickster Caryn Aviv as we consider the anomalous stories of Devorah and Yael who literally and figuratively stick it to the Man.
And, as promised, here’s the link to more information about biblical women at the Jewish Women’s Archive.
In this week’s episode: Judges 1-3. We begin the Book of Judges with an examination of that famous dictum “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” as we consider the forgetfulness of the Jews after their oppression is lifted by God’s elected judge.
In this week’s episode: Joshua 16-19. We consider how, sometimes, pulling a pebble out of a hat is a much fairer way to make a decision about who gets to pick the restaurant or who gets to settle in the hill country or who gets to run our democracy. Yes. Democracy. Even that quack Aristotle thought so too.
In this week’s episode: Joshua 12-15. In the shortest TanakhCast episode to date, we catch up with an old friend from the Spying days (and his nephew) as we uncover an easter egg omelet in Joshua 15.
And here are some samples of Al Hirschfeld's work and the list of A113 references in every Pixar film - as promised.
In this week’s episode: Joshua 8-11. We explore life during wartime and conquest in Kena’an and consider how William Tecumseh Sherman and Yehoshua sought to make the best of a bad situation. And when I say “best”, I mean “best” for the winning side and utter annihilation for the losers.
And, as promised, a link to the top ten battles in history, compliments of historian and retired Lt. Colonel Michael Lee Lanning.
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In this week’s episode: Joshua 4-7. We explore how the Ark of the Covenant, which inspired Jewish warriors, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, also functioned as a weapon of mass distraction - and how, perhaps, it could have been inspired by extraterrestrial technology.
The ever-compelling Radiolab episode on the walls of Jericho can be found here.
As well as the piece I came across from io9 about how mainstream Christian theology would react to extraterrestrial life.
In a word, BADLY.
In this week’s episode: Joshua 1-3. We launch the “Prophetic” middle section of the Tanakh and pick up right where things left off at the end of the Torah. We consider the use of the meaningful echo and the ironic echo as Yehoshua prepares the Jews for crossing the Jordan River … and boy, are their arms going to be tired!
And here’s that piece by Jesse David Fox about Mad Men’s comedic side.
In this week’s episode: a special Siyum - or “completion”- where we celebrate TanakhCast’s conclusion of the Torah. I look back with great nostalgia on all those good times in the Five Books with raconteur and amateur Torah nerd Dan Friedman and a “Best of…” listicle-a-ganza.
I would say “Remove thy earbuds for the sound which you hear is holy!” but then you would miss all the outrageous merrymaking.
Also, the compendium of "completist" pieces at Slate can be found here.
In this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 32–34. We look at how television series wrap things up and consider whether Moshe’s departure from the people proves to be a fitting end to the Torah.
And here's the piece by Jason Mittell about The Wire and Lost.
And here are the endings for Newhart, St. Elsewhere, Cheers and Six Feet Under.
In this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 28-31. We consider the blessing and the curse in light of choice architecture and wonder what might have happened if Moshe did a little more nudging instead of threatening people’s tushies with harsh medieval treatments.
The paper by Thaler, Sunstein and Balz about "choice architecture" is here and the Nudge blog is here.
In this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 24-27. We examine (once again) remembrance and how memory is mustered and bolstered through the simple act of recitation. Listen closely then repeat after me.
And you can find the most excellent Radiolab podcast about weights and measures here.
In this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 20-23. We consider biblical police procedurals, women as corpses or eye-candy and how men can unlearn how to treat women badly. And yes, I said MEN.
And the Jess Zimmerman piece about #NOTALLMEN is here.
In this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 16-19. We explore the novel legal construct of “home free” for accidental murderers, and how a sanctuary system once set up for unintentional killers has been employed to shelter asylum seekers from persecution. And, last, we consider the practicality of private revenge and the rights of the blood-redeemer in the present day.
In this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 12-15. We look at the Shemitta or “Release” and consider the arguments for and against debt forgiveness before concluding that besides being the right thing to do, it might stimulate economic growth and make our lives better!
And if you're curious about the millennium debt forgiveness movement, click here.
In this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 8-11. We consider for a moment what we would eat on a bagel while an eight day old boy has his foreskin excised and ponder more profoundly other metaphors related to foreskins and their removal.
In this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 4-7. We explore the favourite sport of the elder generation - worrying about the future and the dissolute behaviour of young folk who indulge in the carnal rites of Ba’al and consider whether society is really in peril when those same youngsters eventually become the elders.
In this week’s episode: Deuteronomy 1-3. We launch the Book of Deuteronomy with a look at the early hortations of Moshe’s farewell address and puzzle over what is arguably the first attempt to fabulize recent events by inflating them (and furniture) into titanic proportions.
The article on ever-taller Europeans (and plateau-ing Americans) can be found here.
In this week’s episode: Numbers 32-36. We conclude the Book of Numbers in high literary fashion, pondering the fine details as we consider how readers read, what we expect of texts and what happens when ne’er the twain shall meet.
In this week's episode: Numbers 28-31. We ratchet up the rhetoric as we consider the first salvo in the campaign to claim the land God promised to Patriarchs. And it’s not pretty.
UPDATE: Click here for a lengthy yet breezy explanation of Fermi's Paradox - with diagrams!
In this week’s episode: Numbers 24-27. We examine the Jewish-precedent-setting and bleep-disturbing question posed by Makhla, No’a, Khogla, Milka and Tirza (a.k.a the daughters of Tzlofkhad) with human rights advocate and spouse Noa Mendelsohn Aviv - who would have surely taken their case even though she knew there was little hope of winning. (Spoilers: Oh, for pity's sake, Mr Rabbeinu, the girls will inherit!)
In this week’s episode: Numbers 20-23. We examine the extraordinary measures Balak took against the impending Jewish onslaught and discuss with eldest daughter Maayan Mendelsohn Aviv how best to treat talking donkeys and the lessons learned from all the freewheeling criticism.
In this week’s episode: Numbers 16-19. We explore how Korach’s astroturf uprising ends up in Sheol while truly grassroots efforts have the potential to produce surprising results. And we’ll also explore how a festively plump boy from a quiet Colorado mountain town brought about peace in the Middle East by putting a red wig and freckles on a cow.
ICYMI, "By Fire" by Tahar Ben Jelloun at The New Yorker as well as "Forcing the End" by Lawrence Wright about the search for the red heifer.
And here's the bit from SNL with Julian Assange:
... and if you want a peurile laugh, you can watch the South Park episode "Ginger Cow" here, here, here and here.
In this week’s episode: Numbers 12-15. Tema Smith, Toronto Discussion Group Coordinator for Be’chol Lashon, considers the strange cocktail of anecdotes which is this week’s portion and why Moshe is the poster boy (and this edition the “poster edition”) for Jewish diversity and interfaith outreach.
In this week’s episode: Numbers 8-11. Among other desert-wandering religious matters, we explore the commemoration of the first Passover after the Exodus and how one of the most popular Jewish religious observances came into existence in a moment of crisis and creativity. We conclude with a thought about what happens when we make the old new again.
ICYMI, the full Sanhedrin Initiative position on the revival of the Korban Pessah is here.
In this week’s episode: Numbers 4-7. We explore the supposed efficacy of trying alleged adulterers by ordeal Leonard Cohen style and consider whether the return of flogging might solve the prison problem in North America.
ICYMI, Peter Leeson's article on trial by ordeal and Peter Moskos' book In Defense of Flogging.
In this week’s episode: Numbers 1-3. We consider the age-old tradition of counting Jews in benign and malign contexts and how one man’s count is another man’s kerfuffle.
ICYMI, have a look at the Eichmann document from the Wannsee Conference here. There's also Timothy Noah's piece at Slate about Nixon's Jew Count and the transcripts at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia Presidential Recordings Program. And finally, the complete Pew Research Centre's "A Portrait of Jewish Americans" as well as the eye-crossing sidebar on "Who is a Jew?" and the fun for the whole family Jewish population calculator!
In this week’s episode: Leviticus 24-27. We conclude Leviticus with a foray into the world of complicated financial products and the ins and outs of the free market as we address the question: Why regulate?
ICYMI, a paper on the origin of mortgage backed securities, the section of Pope Francis' Evangelii Gaudium where he tears Reaganomics a new one, and an episode of the always interesting Freakonomics podcast discussing Pope Francis' broadside:
In this week’s episode: Leviticus 20-23. We examine some more commandments that relate to tum’ah and taharah and how a kohein has to be like the animal he sacrifices. And in between talking about holydays and their food traditions, we take another look at the kohein, his martial options, the kohein economy and, most importantly, how much work he is allowed to bring home.
ICYMI, some information about poutine for all y'all Non-Canadians, the complete episode of Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" about Jerusalem and Palestine, and, most important, Yotam Ottolenghi's shakshouka recipe!
In this week’s episode: Leviticus 16-19. Thanks to the miracle of Skype, Dr. Jay Michaelson, author of God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality and the recently published Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment guests on TanakhCast to explain why context matters in the Holiness Code, and how an obscure verse about to’evah or “abomination” has become one of the most infamous in all of the Torah - and how it has been completely and practically misunderstood.
In this week’s episode: Leviticus 12-15. We get into the flow of things with an in-depth examination of various impurifying skin flakings and discharges and the measures taken to correct them. We also consider, but just for a minute, the behaviours that lead to all the impurifying discharges and wonder, but just for a minute, why folks are more interested in the cure instead of prevention.
ICYMI, the piece by Professor Yishayahu Nitzan who is absolutely convinced that the condition referred to as "zav" is really gonorrhoea and the wonderful Flow: the Cultural Story of Menstruation by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim - which you can pick up from Amazon here.
In this week’s episode: Leviticus 8-11. We begin puzzling out the vagaries of kashrut law and Jewish eating and end up with Chabad and Aish HaTorah trying to justify why we should marry only Jews when, technically, all of the patriarchs, Joseph, Moses, Boaz, David and Solomon and even the founders of Ashkenazi Jewry didn’t… And yet, despite the notorious Pew Report, the Jewish people keep on keeping on... or do they?
And ICYMI, the paper in Nature about how European women and NOT women from the Near East were the principal female founders of the Ashkenazi Jewish community of Europe. You'll want to read this with a cup of hot cocoa.
In this week’s episode: Leviticus 4-7. We explore what kind of near-offering Anthony Weiner would bring had he offended during the time of the Dwelling and how tum’ah is a form of cooties that has greater ramifications beyond getting that circle-circle-dot-dot-now-you-have-a-cootie-shot.
In this week’s episode: Leviticus 1-3. We explore a list of shockingly and disgustingly explicit instructions relating to the offering of near-offerings, and how many kohens and Levites there might be who would find these instructions useful. We also consider what Nobel prize winning author Shai Agnon would have said about Third Temple enthusiasts offering the Paschal Lamb today.
ICYMI, here, here and here are some studies about "Y-Chromosomal Aaron".
And the crowd-obscured YouTube video of the paschal lamb offering can be found here ... get it while it's hot!
In this week’s episode: Exodus 37-40. We conclude Exodus with a fanciful reconsideration of it as the middle installment of the Torah trilogy and how Joss Whedon would have probably hated its ending too.
ICYMI, here's Emily Asher-Perrin's piece on The Empire Strikes Back and how it ruined trilogies as well as Joss Whedon's hating on Empire's ending.
In this week’s episode: Exodus 33-36. We explore one of the more obscure yet significant commandments in the daily diets of traditional Jews and how a simple sign on my front lawn might not be enough to ward off folks from falling into my sinkhole. Also, listening to this episode while baking will guarantee leavening as it lasts 18 minutes and three seconds!
In this week’s episode: Exodus 29-32. We consider what happens after Moshe is shamelessly late and the person who is supposed to be in charge (read: Aharon) confronts demands for a Golden Calf. And we regard what it means to “pursue peace” as Hillel (inspired by Aharon) does when similarly confronted by bad behaviour and whether all this “peace pursuing” is not just a sleazy dodge.
And if that's not enough, TanakhCast is also on Soundcloud!
In this week’s episode: Exodus 25-28. We explore the Dwelling, God’s residence and all the design elements necessary to heighten curb appeal and resale value. We also look at the High Priest’s most famous yet most obscure vestment - the Urim veTummim and its surprising place in colonial American history - along with the selling of naming rights, organized shnorring and valedictory addresses in stilted biblical Hebrew.
In this week’s episode: Exodus 21-24. We examine the first hardcore batch of laws in the Torah and discuss what might happen when two men brawl in public. We also briefly discuss sheep-diddling and the nimble halakhic minds that can regard a life as not-a-life and a pursuer as not-a-pursuer.
And ICYMI, Rabbi Haym Soloveitchik's piece entitled "Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary Orthodoxy" can be found here
In this week’s episode: Exodus 17-20. Though this portion is pyrotechnically-packed and commandment-filled, we examine the irony of memory and forgetting as it refers to the memorable command to erase the memory of Amalek. How are we supposed to forget Amalek when we constantly bring them up all the time?
And ICYMI, here, here and here are pieces about the Knesset and banning the word "Nazi".
In this week’s episode: Exodus 13-16. Thanks to the miracle of Skype, Michael Wex, author of Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods, explains the intricacies of kvetching and why Jews have been kvetching for as long as there have been Jews, Egyptian bondage notwithstanding.
In this week’s episode: Exodus 9-12. We re-examine the question of collective punishment as the remaining plagues ravage Egypt and, in the process, probably manage to piss off probably every working lawyer by taking a poke at the legal profession’s favourite fictional character Atticus Finch.
ICYMI, have a listen to the Gettysburg episode of Slate's Political Gabfest podcast so you can get a sense of context for David Plotz's comments. And here is Dalia Lithwick's piece on Atticus Finch as well as Malcolm Gladwell's jab at the legendary fictional lawyer.
In this week’s episode: Exodus 5-8. We examine the beginning of the grand game between Pharaoh and Moshe, a contest which not only results in the first three plagues and the punishment of a whole nation for the recalcitrance of one man - but also demonstrates why Tit-for-Tat works best when facing down your opponents. And my daughter Heala weighs in on the notion of collective punishment!
One additional note: Richard Dawkins’ love for Tit-for-Tat in the Prisoner’s Dilemma game is based largely on simulations where there are more than two players in the game - which suggests that Tit-for-Tat, though the best strategy for multiple opponents, might not work as well in the Egyptian Bondage version.
UPDATE: It seems that prisoners are more cooperative than expected...
In this week’s episode: Exodus 1-4. Dan Libenson, President of the Institute for the Next Jewish Future, explains why God has a lot to learn about mentoring Moshe at the Burning Bush, and how sometimes, it is better NOT to walk in the ways of God if it means that you cannot grow and learn to be a better leader.
I was going to insert a picture of Dan Libenson, but then I realized that folks would connect the header and the image.
Dan is a distinguished leader and wise mentor.
Bill Lumbergh is NOT.
In this week’s episode: Genesis 48-50. We examine the coda of the Yosef story and the attempts to tie up all the loose ends in this family drama. Through the lengthy blessings of the brothers, we look at the convention of blessings in the Tanakh. And through the brothers’ final ruse, we will consider the importance of the apology as a necessary lubricant in human relations. And if this reads as repetitive, I am sorry.
ICYMI, the Kickstarter apology can be found here. Coverage of Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling's total bullsh&t apology can be found here. Speaking of bullsh&t apologies, if you have the stomach, why not read coverage about lame offerings from John Sununu and Gareth Evans? And no discussion about apologies would be complete without a TOP TEN LIST!
In this week’s episode: Genesis 44-47. We examine the build-up to and the climax of the Yosef drama - the Big Reveal of Yosef’s identity - and consider how this reveal, like all dramatic twists in the Tanakh, is inherently a Captain Obvious Reveal. And we will also consider how Yosef’s economic policies would have made Newt Gingrich squeal with glee.
In this week’s episode: Genesis 40-43. We examine the role of cupbearer in Egypt and Westeros as well as how, for Yosef, dreams are not the royal road to the unconscious, but the path to royalty in the court of Pharaoh.
ICYMI, Nizam al-Mulk's Book of Government can be found here.
In this week’s episode: Genesis 36-39. We examine the story of Tamar, the daughter-in-law/baby mama of Yehuda who uses the whore’s veils to accomplish a neat trick. And we will also explore the fifth iteration of sibling rivalry in Genesis between Yosef, his coat of many colours and his brothers - which results in some violence, enslavement and yet another ruse. In short, any scream will do.
ICYMI, the Claire Messud interview, in its entirety can be found here.
In this week’s episode: Genesis 32-35. We examine yet another disturbing story in the Tanakh - the rape of Dinah - and how commentators of various persuasions (male and female, strident and stodgy) have understood the incident. We also consider how female sexuality and sex work challenge male notions of propriety and morality - and how, in the Tanakh, it usually ends badly for everyone. Sigh.
BTW, Ellen Frankel's Five Books Of Miriam: A Woman's Commentary on the Torah can be purchased here and Elyse Goldstein's Women's Torah Commentary can be purchased here.
In this week’s episode: Genesis 28-31. Alongside with numerous Beastie Boys references, we consider a popular corollary to the notion of biblical justice and ponder the role of commentaries in our understanding of Tanakh. So here's a-nother one for y’all to peep. It’s called T-A-N-A on the K-H-C.
BTW, the link to the New York Times article about the near-toppling of an Israeli government because of a "disparaging" comment about King David can be found here.
In this week’s episode: Genesis 24-27. We examine the rivalry between Yaakov and Esav from the perspective of bad names, bad contracts and bad blood. Though free-marketeers cry Caveat Emptor, we consider the raw deal Yaakov offered Esav and the further raw dealing (and goat-hair-wearing) implicating Rivkah and Yitzhak at the expense of Esav.
BTW, the link to the Freakonomics episode about names can be found here.
In this week’s episode: Genesis 20-23. We decide once and for all whether Avraham deserves a spot alongside Sandy Koufax, Leonard Nimoy and Barbra Streisand in the Jewish pantheon. We consider Avraham’s track record in the run-up to his biggest moment in the Tanakh: the Akkedah, or binding of his son Yitzhak - and conclude that his place in the Hall of Fame might merit another round or two of voting.
In this week’s episode: Genesis 16-19. We examine two very powerful human emotions: laughter and fear. Though laughter might bring life to the party, fear insures that life will go on. (Now that’s a scary thought...) We will also consider why our biblical forebears laughed in God’s face and how the real sin of Sodom had nothing to do with naughty bits.
BTW, the Radiolab podcast can be found here. This American Life on tribes can be found here. You can buy Inside Jokes: Using Humour to Reverse Engineer the Mind by Matthew Hurley, Daniel Dennett, and Reginald Adams Jr. here or Jared Diamond's The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? here. And Jay Michaelson's book God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equality can be found here.
In this week’s episode: Genesis 12-15. We examine the not-so-heroic behaviour of the First Father Avram during his sojourn in Egypt as we ponder the nature of biblical heroes. We also consider the ramifications of time travel on choice, free will and the fate of Avram’s descendants in Egypt as Avram shoos away vultures in the “Covenant of the Pieces”. Will Skynet prevail?
In this week’s episode: Genesis 8-11. We explore the waning days of the Deluge and the bad behaviours of Noah and his son Ham. With the eating of meat and the meting-out of curses, humanity sets out to resettle the planet and make a mess of things - socially and semantically - with their plans for building a Tower in Babel. We also introduce our Text-to-Speech friend Lee, our guest lengthier-passage reader!
BTW, the Gustav Doré illustration of the Tower of Babel can be found here.
In this week's episode: Genesis 4-7. We explore what we think we know about those first generations after the expulsion from the Garden, as well as some killings, a lot of couplings and how a shield can linguistically transform into a stigma. We'll also consider the wacky story of Metatron and the symbolic significance of numbers in these fanciful tales.
UPDATE: Thanks to @PonyRoy for correcting my Transformer-related gaffe. Megatron is the leader of the Decepticons, not the Autobots. #AllHailMegatron!
In this week's episode: Genesis 1-3. We explore what we think we know about the Beginning, its sequence of events, its crimes and various punishments, and how what reads like a children's story is anything but fodder for children's art projects involving glue, glitter and those awkward dull-edged plastic scissors. We'll also consider a counterfactual, Ferdinand de Saussure, Jacques Derrida and Ensign Chekov.
One correction: In the podcast, I refer to a unit of text, known as "E" as spanning Genesis 1:1 to 2:4. That particular piece concludes with Genesis 2:3. What I was thinking about was the next bit that began at Genesis 2:4 but I over-anticipated. Apologies.
One other program note: I managed to get Episode 2 up one week after Episode 1! Woot!
At last - TanakhCast!
This episode will introduce the podcast and what you can expect from TanakhCast over the coming weeks, months and years, including the persistence of voiceless uvular fricatives, documentary hypotheses, apocryphal texts and the idiosyncracies of what we lovingly call the Tanakh.