Our mission: 1) To deliver intelligent, sincere, and thought provoking Divrei Torah, none of which take longer than three minutes to read. 2) To combat unintelligent, unsophisticated, and unfounded Divrei Torah. You know, the ones you usually hear. Check out The Five Commandments.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Methodology: One Story, Two Versions?

It is important to recognize how the Dvar Torah for Parshat Beshalach was constructed.
Often, particularly in Sefer Devarim, the Torah will "retell" a story that appears previously in Chumash. The most salient example of this might be the sin of the Meraglim (spies) which appears first in Shlach and then is retold in V'Etchanon. Anytime the reader is confronted with such a phenomenon, he must do the following:

1. Examine both narratives carefully. Be sure to note how they are similar, and, more importantly, how they are different.

2. Accumulate and collect the evidence. Try to add up each narrative's respective evidence and deduce a separate message from each. In our example, we concluded from Beshalach's evidence one particular crime committed by Amalek, and from Ki-Teitzi we concluded another.

3. After distilling the essential perspective or outlook of each account, you need to address why each narrative "selected" its own respective outlook. In terms of this Dvar Torah, we addressed why one crime was particularly fitting for Beshalach and another for Ki-Teitzei. Often, contextualizing each narrative provides a "bigger picture" as to why its emphasis is appropriate.

These steps form a piece of a method pioneered by the late Rabbi Mordechai Breuer, a world expert in Tanach, winner of the Israel Prize for original Torah research, and father of the famed "Keter Yerushalayim" edition of the Bible. He developed the Shitat haBekhinot, or Perspectives Method, which uncovers sophisticated, multifaceted perspectives in what may otherwise appear to be varying or contradictory Biblical passages.

No comments: