Bechor Shor

Rabbi Joseph Bechor Shor was a 12th Century French scholar. He was a student of Rabbeinu Tam and part of the Tosaphot school of thought. His commentary is at times both bold and innovative while maintaining a profound allegiance to the simple meaning of the text (Pshat). He is widely beleived to be Rabbi Yosef M’Orleans, who is quoted a number of times in the Tosaphot commentary on the Talmud.

 

  • The Meaning of Hester Panim October 3, 2019 - In Parshat Vayeilech, God tells Moshe that He will hide His presence from the Jewish people when we sin: The LORD said to Moses: You are soon to lie with…
  • Mitzvot without Intent September 26, 2019 - Which is greater, performing a mitzvah without the requisite intention, or having the intention but failing to do the mitzvah?  For example, a fellow really wants to eat matzah on…
  • Torah or Mitzvot? September 19, 2019 - Judaism is far more than a religion. It is undoubtedly also a national identity. Time and time again throughout the Torah Moshe references not the emergence of a creed or…
  • The Mitzvah of Shiluach Haken September 10, 2019 - One of the more esoteric mitzvot in Parshat Ki Teitzeh is the mitzvah of Shiluach Haken, sending away the mother bird before taking the eggs. What makes this mitzvah so…
  • Rebuke or Inspiration? July 25, 2019 - The Book of Devarim is Moshe’s last speech to the Jewish people, 37 days prior to his death. Everyone knows that a good speech needs a hook, something that will…
  • 250 Chieftains and the Plot of Korach July 19, 2019 - In the beginning of Parshat Korah, the Torah tells us that Korach did not act alone in his rebellion against Moshe and Aaron. Now Korah, son of Izhar son of…
  • Why Do They Hate Us? July 18, 2019 - In the beginning of Parshat Balak, the nations of Moav and Midyan form an alliance, although they were otherwise bitter enemies, in order to fight against the Jewish people. What…
  • What Year Are We In? July 10, 2019 - The Bechor Shor presents an understanding of Parshat Chukat that is so innovative and non traditional that it is very hard to accept, though he was not the only one…
  • The Absence of Yehoshua June 20, 2019 - In Parshat Shelach we read about the sin of the ten spies who were sent to the Land of Israel and the disastrous effects that it had on the Jewish…
  • Lessons in Repetition June 12, 2019 - There’s a lot of repetition in the fifth, sixth and seventh aliyot of Parshat Naso. On every subsequent day of the inauguration of the Mishkan, each tribal leader offers a…
  • Is God’s Blessing the Exception or the Rule? June 5, 2019 - Parshat Bechukotai begins with great promise for those who observe God’s commandments: If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments, I will grant your rains in their season,…
  • Owning Land in Eretz Yisrael May 19, 2019 - There is great debate among halachik authorities as to the modern day obligation to live in the Land of Israel, and much ink has been spilled on the topic. But…
  • Sefirat Haomer: A Parable of the Bechor Shor May 14, 2019 - In Parshat Emor the Bechor Shor provides a beautiful explanation that he learned from his father on the topic of sefirat haomer, the counting of the days between Passover and…
  • Playing God May 8, 2019 - In Parshat Kedoshim the Torah prohibits three different forms of kilayim, crossbreeding: You shall observe My laws. You shall not let your cattle mate with a different kind; you shall…
  • Chukat Akum – What Nations are Intended? May 1, 2019 - A common question, and sometimes dilemma, of the Jew in the Diaspora is the extent to which we can and should acculturate into our host nation. Those who are halachically…
  • Seeking Out Estrangement April 10, 2019 - One of the greatest challenges for the Jew in the modern world is avoiding sin in a world wherein every pleasure and temptation is readily accessible and even glorified by…
  • Non-Kosher Animals, Blood and Orlah March 28, 2019 - In Parshat Shemini the Bechor Shor provides his own explanations as to why some animals and foods are kosher, and other are not. Any animal that has true hoofs, with…
  • Unifying Our Will March 14, 2019 - In the beginning of Parshat Vayikra the Torah provides much of the criteria for sacrifices, one of which is “lirtzono.” If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd,…
  • The Most Successful Building Campaign February 28, 2019 - In the beginning of Parshat Vayakhel, Moses assembles the entire Jewish people in order to tell them about the Terumah, the contributions which they will be making for the construction…
  • The Psychology of Sacrifice February 12, 2019 - Towards the end of Parshat Tetzaveh, the Bechor Shor presents an innovative understanding of the purpose of sacrifices.  As noted in Parshat Terumah, the Bechor Shor has a nuanced understanding…
  • The Purpose of the Mishkan February 4, 2019 - Parshat Terumah begins a series of parshiyot focused on the construction and inauguration of the Mishkan, the tabernacle that traveled with the Jewish people for 497 years until King Solomon…
  • Long Lines and Ma’amad Har Sinai January 21, 2019 - Parshat Yitro contains the most important event in the history of the world, Ma’amad Har Sinai, receiving the Torah at Sinai.  God reveals himself to the entire Jewish people and…
  • Eating Your Torah for Dinner January 14, 2019 - In Parshat Beshalach, the Bechor Shor presents a non-traditional interpretation that has profound implications for the relationship between food and Torah. The Torah tells us: “They came to Marah, and…
  • The Doorposts of Egypt January 8, 2019 - In Parshat Bo, on the eve of the exodus from Egypt, the Torah records that the Jewish people celebrated their freedom even before leaving Egypt.  The first Passover seder which…
  • The Magicians’ Failure January 1, 2019 - In Parshat Vaeira we are told that the magicians of Egypt were able to replicate the plagues of blood and frogs but failed when it came to the plague of…
  • Decoding God’s Name December 26, 2018 - In Parshat Shemot, Moshe asks God an ostensibly simple question:  What is Your name? God gives what appears to be a clear answer, “Eheye Asher Eheye.” However, there is nothing…
  • The Unusual Circumstance Surrounding Joseph’s Burial December 21, 2018 - Many of the Mefarshim and students of Tanach spend time analyzing the burial of Jacob, while the burial of Joseph stays largely under the radar. No doubt there is much…
  • It’s Good to be a Jew December 14, 2018 - After Joseph reveals his true identity to his brothers, the Torah tells us that the news reached Pharaoh.  Pharaoh, as well as his servants, were pleased with the news –…
  • Who is Joseph’s Wife and Why Did He Marry Her? December 4, 2018 - In Parashat Miketz, the Torah states that after being elevated to high office, Pharaoh gives Joseph a wife, Asenat the daughter of Poti Phara. The Rashbam (see Genesis 41:45 and…
  • A Lesson in Integrity November 27, 2018 - Bechor Shor on Parshat Vayeshev Why did Joseph not try to get in touch with his father, Jacob, during all those years that he was in a position of prominence…
  • Fear of the Unknown November 19, 2018 - Bechor Shor - Parashat Vayishlach In the beginning of Parashat Vayishlach, Jacob learns that his estranged brother, Esau, is approaching him with 400 soldiers.  How does Jacob react to this…
  • What Happened to Lot’s Wife? October 27, 2018 - One of the most famous stories of the book of Bereishit is the fate of Lot's wife.  As she is fleeing with her family from the city of Sedom which…