Geography in the Parsha
Teacher Title Abstract
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Bereishit: The Garden of Eden and the Euphrates River As we begin the yearlong cycle of Torah reading with Parashat Bereishit, it is striking that most of the action in the parasha centers around a unique setting: the Garden of Eden.
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Noach: The Borders of Canaan When reading Parashat Noach, the Jewish reader might feel some confusion and strangeness, as if suddenly he has been thrust into an alien environment, like a visitor in a foreign country with no familiar face in sight.
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Lekh Lekha: “Between Bethel and Ai” – Identifying Ai There are five places in Tanakh where Bethel and Ai are linked.
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Vayera: Sodom and Gomorrah Parashat Vayera contains the Torah’s account of the cataclysmic destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, four of the five major “cities of the Plain.”
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Chayei Sara: The Field of Machpelah The field of Machpelah - the area in Hebron surrounding the cave itself - has a rich and fascinating history. We examine this history here, focusing on the field's role in our national consciousness and experience, from the time of Abraham until today.
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Toldot: Gerar Gerar is a location that features prominently in the lives of the Patriarchs. But where exactly is Gerar, and what can the answer to this question teach us about life in modern-day Israel?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Vayetze: Assigning Names The phenomenon of naming people and places and concurrently including an explanation for the name can be found throughout the Torah and the books of Joshua and Judges; it is a central fixture of the Biblical narrative.
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Vayishlach: The Parcel of Land in Shechem The second place in the Land of Israel, following the cave of Machpelah, to have been purchased by one of our patriarchs, and the first place where Jacob built an altar and invoked the name of God, is the “parcel of land” in Shechem.
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Vayeshev: “He Was At Chezib When She Bore Him” The meaning of the place name Chezib, like many other such names in Tanakh, is not clear. What do we do when the Torah presents us with mixed messages regarding the interpretation of names?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Miketz: Modi’in When Judah and his brothers died, they were buried in Modi’in, in an ancestral tomb. But where is Modi’in?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Vayigash: Beersheba We turn now to Beersheba, the City of the Patriarchs. We first encounter Beersheba in Parashat Vayera and then in Parashat Toldot, where we learn of its role in the lives of Abraham and Isaac.
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Vayechi: Goren Ha-atad The Torah says that Goren Ha-atad, where Jacob’s funeral ceremony takes place, is located in “ever ha-Yarden.” But where is ever ha-Yarden, and how did the mourners end up there?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Shemot: Ramesses and the Question of Dating the Exodus Most scholars believe that the enslavement of the people of Israel in Egypt and the subsequent Exodus took place during the reign of Ramesses II – Ramesses the Great. But based on textual and archaeological evidence, can this really be true?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Vaera: People Named For Places Names of people and names of places in the land of Israel are often intertwined. But which came first: the person or the place?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Bo: The Land of Goshen The land of Goshen is well known as the region where the people of Israel lived during their years in Egypt. But where exactly is Goshen, and how did there come to be a “land of Goshen” within the land of Israel as well?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Beshalach: The War of Deborah and Barak: A Different Geographical Perspective The story of Deborah and Barak’s incredible military victory over Sisera and his forces contains a plethora of geographical names. By analyzing each one of these place names, we can come to a new, revolutionary understanding of the precise nature of this historic battle.
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Yitro: Stone Altars and Earthen Altars in the Archaeology of the Land of Israel The Torah is very particular about the way in which we sacrifice to God, establishing several laws surrounding the construction of stone altars and earthen altars. What can archaeological findings in Israel teach us about the culture and practice of ritual sacrifice throughout our history in the land?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Mishpatim: The Destined Borders of the Land of Israel If we look throughout Tanakh, we find two sets of borders given for the land of Israel: one vast and expansive, and the other more limited. Is there any way to reconcile the two?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Teruma: The Givlim Who were the Givlim mentioned in this week’s haftara, and what can we learn about their role in the construction of the Temple?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Tetzaveh-Zakhor: Remembering Amalek The story of Amalek and the Torah’s harsh attitude toward this nation has been a constant topic of discussion and analysis throughout our history. How can a close examination of texts and geography lead us to a new understanding of this issue?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Ki Tisa: The Nations of Canaan and the Girgashites While lists of the seven Canaanite nations appear several times throughout Tanakh, it turns out that some of these lists omit one or more of the nations – most notably the Girgashites. How can an examination of the textual and archaeological evidence help us uncover the mysterious fate of the Girgashites?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei: Where is the Ark of the Covenant? The Ark of the Testimony was the physical home of the Divine Presence in the Mishkan, and it is thus no surprise that the quest to discover its fate has tantalized Jews and non-Jews alike for ages. By searching for textual and archaeological clues, can we solve the mystery of the current location of the Ark?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Vayikra: Tzafon The linguistic meaning and history of the Hebrew word for “north” – tzafon – is difficult to ascertain. How can the answer to this question help us understand why the holiest sacrifices were slaughtered on the north side of the altar?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Tzav: Mul The word mul is extremely common in both modern Hebrew and Tanakh, but its meaning in various Biblical contexts is surprisingly unclear. How can we get to the bottom of mul’s original definition, and shed new light on several important passages in Tanakh?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Shemini: Kiriath-jearim and the Giv’a: Not (Exactly) What You Thought The cities of Kiriath-jearim and Gibeah, situated along the border between the territories of Judah and Benjamin, have a fascinating relationship with each other throughout the Tanakh. Where exactly are these cities located, and what can we learn from this?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Metzora: The Tzara’at-affected House While Chazal declare that the tzara’at-affected house described in Parashat Metzora never actually existed, Talmudic anecdotes persist to the contrary. How can we get to the bottom of the matter?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Kedoshim: Kir In this week’s haftara, Amos refers to a connection between the Arameans and an obscure place called Kir. What is the nature of this connection, and how can this shed light on our own nation’s tumultuous historical narrative?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Emor: Sunset and Teruma: The Haifa Connection How can delving into the geography and history of Mount Carmel and ancient Haifa help us understand Chazal’s complicated time calculations?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Behar: Walled Cities Most observant Jews only associate Jerusalem with the various halakhot that apply specially to residents of walled cities in the land of Israel. But by investigating traditional texts and archaeological findings, we find that the laws of walled cities may be much more pervasive – even today.
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Bechukotai – Yom Yerushalayim: Names of Jerusalem in the Tanakh Shalem, Tziyyon, Yevus, Yerushalem… these are only a few of the various names given in the Tanakh to our holiest city. How can we make sense of Jerusalem’s numerous names and what does this tell us about the role of the city in the history of the Jewish people?

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