Geography in the Parsha
Teacher Title Abstract
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Bemidbar: The Golan in the Torah The word katef – literally ”shoulder” – appears several times in the Tanakh in a topographical context. How can an analysis of the precise meaning of this word help us determine the role of the Golan Heights in establishing the border of the land of Israel?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Naso: Zorah and Eshtaol and the Territory of Dan Zorah and Eshtaol, usually viewed as archetypical Danite cities, are paired together numerous times throughout the Tanakh and other sources. By examining the history and background of these twin cities, how can we learn more about the role that Dan played among the tribes of Israel throughout the ages?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Beha'alotekha: The Wilderness of Paran The various desert areas in and around the Sinai Peninsula, and mentioned throughout the Torah, played important roles in the people of Israel’s journey from Egypt to Canaan. By investigating the respective locations and characters of these wildernesses, how can we learn more about the pivotal first years of the nation of Israel’s existence?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Shelach: Emek and Har: The Dwelling Place of the Amalekites and the Canaanites While most people think of a valley (emek in the Torah) as a low area between hills, several places in the Torah seem to speak of going up to reach a valley. How can this be – have we misunderstood the meaning of the word emek all along?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Korach: Guarding the Sanctuary and the Gates of the Courtyard Accounts – Talmudic and otherwise – differ regarding the exact structure and makeup of the Courtyard of the Holy Temple. How can we make sense of it all?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Chukat: Wadi Zered Wadi Zered, a stream that the people of Israel crossed before entering the land, plays a role in Biblical geography that is disproportionate to the two times it is mentioned in the Tanakh. What is the significance of this wadi, and why have modern and classical scholars been misidentifying it for centuries?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Balak: The Land of Moab The Tanakh gives contradictory accounts regarding the extent of the people of Israel’s interaction with the land of Moab – specifically the northern region – on their way to Canaan. What is the nature of Israel’s presence in the plains of Moab, and what role did Sihon king of the Amorites play in the matter?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Pinchas: Zelophehad’s Daughters and Their Portion Following their famous first interaction with Moses, the daughters of Zelophehad inherited a portion of Manassite territory that was extraordinarily large considering their place in the family tree. What is the significance of this portion and how does the Torah’s account of their inheritance bear out in the archaeological findings?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Matot - Masei: The Conquests of Machir, Jair and Nobah The members of the half-tribe of Manasseh are often grouped together with the tribes of Reuben and Gad who laid claim to land in the Transjordan, but some key differences set the Manassites apart. What is the unique role of the tribe of Manasseh in the early history of the people of Israel?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Devarim: The Rephaim, Emim and Zamzummim In the context of the poetic description of Israel’s conquest of the lands of Sihon and Og, the Torah provides information about several strange early nations that lived in those territories in generations past. What is the meaning and significance of this arcane history lesson?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Va'etchanan: The Lebanon People today rarely feel much of an ancestral connection to the land beyond the modern Israel-Lebanon border, but much of southern Lebanon seems to have been part of the land of Israel. What is the source of our ancient connection to this “lost” heritage?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Ekev: Israel: The Chosen Land Parashat Ekev answers the very fundamental question of why the land of Israel is special, uniquely suited to be God's chosen land. How can we understand the Torah's pronouncements about the land of Israel from a real, geographical perspective?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Re'eh: Ha-makom What is the significance of the term ha-makom (“the place”) that recurs several times throughout Parashat Re’eh, and what is its connection to the centrality of Jerusalem in our texts and traditions?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Shoftim: Nachal Eitan One of the notable features of the unique egla arufa ritual is that it takes place by a stream - nachal eitan. But what kind of stream is this, and what do the starkly different approaches in answering this question tell us about our relationship with the land of Israel over the generations?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Ki Tetze - “Alternate Weights, Larger or Smaller” Today, in the age of credit cards and e-commerce, many people find it difficult to relate to the Torah's prohibition on keeping "alternate weights." How can gaining a better understanding of the prevailing mode of commerce during the Biblical period give us greater insight into this prohibition?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Ki Tavo - Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal What was so unique about Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal that this site was chosen for the momentous covenant ceremony forged between God and Israel upon entering the land – and what exactly happened there?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Nitzavim - “That Land” Like the people of Israel, the geographical land of Israel has had its high points and low points throughout Jewish history. How can examining the land's indisputable low points - predicted in part by Parashat Nitzavim - help us gain a better appreciation for the role of God's hand in the fate of the Holy Land?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur (Parashat Vayelekh/Shabbat Shuva): Sukka, Redemption and the Talmudic Principle “You Shall Make But Not From That Which is Already Made” By analyzing the texts, how can we come to a deeper understanding of an ancient question that is still perennially relevant for the Jewish people on Shabbat Shuva: If we never repent properly, is the redemption that was promised still guaranteed?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat Haazinu - Mount Nebo: Did Moses Enter the Land of Israel? One of the most heart-wrenching moments in the Torah, and in Moses’ narrative in particular, occurs when Moses ascends Mount Nebo and looks out upon the land of Israel. But if that geographical region was actually considered part of the greater land of Israel, how can we truly appreciate the emotional impact of this incident?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Parashat VeZot HaBerakha - Benjamin's Portion The geography of Benjamin’s portion in the land of Israel is unique and, at times, seemingly inexplicable. By examining the various unusual aspects of this narrow piece of land, how can we gain a new appreciation for Benjamin’s central role within the nation of Israel?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Sukkot: Ka-Arava In the haftara that we read on the first day of Sukkot, the prophet Zechariah declares that in the future, the whole land of Israel will become ka-arava. What is the meaning of ka-arava in this context, and what does this teach us about the nature of the promised redemption?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Shabbat Sukkot: What Are Sukkot and Why Do We Live in Them? What is the real reason we dwell in booths on the festival of Sukkot, and how can our analysis help us interpret the Torah's explanations for its own statements in general?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Erev Pesach - Gilgal Where is Gilgal, and how can its location and the traditions associated with it help us appreciate the people of Israel’s experience as they entered their homeland for the first time as a nation?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Shabbat Chol Ha-mo'ed Pesach: Aviv and Tel Aviv What is the history of the name “Tel Aviv,” and how can this teach us about the mindset of the people who were banished from their homes and their homeland in the Babylonian exile?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Shevi'i Shel Pesach: The Sea of Suph While most people assume that the Yam Suf - where the people of Israel crossed the sea in spectacular fashion - refers to the Red Sea, many scholars prefer to identify Yam Suf with other bodies of water bordering Egypt. Who is right, and why does it matter?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Shavu'ot: Sinai There are so many different views regarding the location of Mount Sinai that it is difficult to know which opinions have any credence. Where is Mount Sinai actually located, and how does this inform our understanding of the people of Israel’s journey through the wilderness?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Erev Rosh Ha-shana - Shiloh What can the excavations at Tel Shiloh and the topography there tell us about the Mishkan at Shiloh, and why is this a perfect haftara topic for Rosh Ha-shana?
שיעורי טקסט Prof. Yoel Elitzur Erev Yom Kippur - The Temple and Azazel Where was the location known in the Torah as “Azazel” located, and what can this teach us about the relationship between Azazel and the Temple Mount on Yom Kippur?

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