Discussion: What’s Your Favorite Verse in Torah?

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I forget exactly what prompted this, but somehow, it became a family discussion question of sorts: what is your favorite verse in Torah?

I expected Dad would pick the famous “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof” (“Justice, justice shall you follow”) from Parshat Shoftim from the book of Deuteronomy:

Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Deut. 16:20 (Parshat Shoftim). Deuteronomy 16:20 with Connections (sefaria.org)

But he actually picked a different verse on justice. The verse below comes from Parshat Kedoshim in Leviticus. We read a double parsha, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim this week for our weekly Torah portion.

You shall commit no injustice in judgment; you shall not favor a poor person or respect a great man; you shall judge your fellow with righteousness.

Lev. 19:15 (Parshat Kedoshim) Acharei-Kedoshim Torah Reading – Parshah (chabad.org)

That one feels extremely relevant today.

Then there’s my brother. When asked the question, without hesitation, my brother immediately quoted this one from memory:

Deut 25:11 If men are fighting one another[1] and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband[2] from the hand of the one striking him, and she reaches out and grabs hold of[3] his private parts, 25:12 you shall cut off her hand. Show no pity.[4]

Deut 25:11-12 (Parshat Ki Teitzei). A Woman Who Seizes a Man’s Testicles During a Fight, Her Hand is Cut Off – TheTorah.com

My brother is a character. I have to give him points for creativity and humor.

In any case, I ask you the discussion question: What’s your favorite verse of Torah/Bible/Scripture?

37 comments

  1. I’m an atheist with an observant daughter (one is, one isn’t), and I find a great interest in learning about the practices and traditions. Even if you don’t believe in a supreme being, there is still so much wisdom in the Torah and the interpretations. For example, I just learned about the rule of keeping a field wild during the seventh year, which is very practical, since the land needs a chance to regenerate. But not only that… during that year you are supposed to forgive your debts (a way of “regenerating” relationships, maybe?) and allow others (people and animals) to use that land as they need to. That’s so… progressive! That’s just one thing among so many…

    Liked by 3 people

    • I always thought the concepts of shmita and jubilee year were interesting. To me, they speak to the limits of ownership. It is a really fascinating and progressive concept!
      And I agree with you that independent of belief or non-belief (I believe in G-d, but there are plenty of aspects of G-d and of Judaism generally that I struggle to believe in), there is so much wisdom that can be found in the texts.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I love this question! I’d have to think about it longer to pick my all-time favorite, but one passage I’ve always found really beautiful (and one that’s especially on my mind now as I’ve added the Bedtime Shema into my routine) is Birkat Kohanim:

    “May the Lord bless you and protect you.
    May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.
    May the Lord turn His face toward you and grant you peace.” (Num. 6)

    I’m sure I’ll think of a bunch of others as soon as I post this, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Devarim 30.19 “I call heaven and earth today to bear witness against you: I have placed life and death before you, the blessing and the curse, and you shall choose life so that you live, you and your offspring.”

    I like the focus on free will and choice,which is very important to me, and that it’s life-affirming.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. So very difficult to choose.
    I would say “VaYidom Aharon” (And Aharon was silent – after he heard his sons had died from a holy fire) from Parashas Shemini , though I’m unsure why. It’s a part I’ve always been mesmerized by.

    Otherwise this week’s “Kedoshim Tihiyu” (You Shall be Holy). Chidushei HaRim (The first Rabbi of Gur) says it should not be translated as “you shall be holy”, but “you will be holy” – meaning: no matter what, you will be holy, “ki kadosh Ani Hashem Elokechem” – “Because I Your God, am Holy”. We have inherent holiness, having been created “BeTzelem Elokim” – “In the Image of God”. No matter what we’ve done, no matter where we’ve gone, no matter who we’ve become, we are HOLY, and God wants us to come close, and we can always try again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I also really like that ideal of us having a sense of inherent holiness. Although I also like the typical translation of “Kedoshim Tihiyu” in that it’s also a reminder to be holy by doing holy. But on the flip side, it’s also reassuring that we have this holiness that we don’t lose.
      That scene in Parshat Shemini….I feel like I don’t know what to make of Aharon’s reaction. I feel more confused than mesmerized.

      Like

  5. Vayikra (Leviticus) 27:7 talks about the valuation of people, based on their age, when making a donation to the Mishkan – “…from 60 years of age and up, if for a male, the valuation shall be 15 shekels; and for a female 10 shekels.”
    What I love about this is Rashi’s commentary on this verse: ‘Once they reach the days of old age, a woman comes close to being reckoned (in valuation) as a man, for a man’s value decreases as he reaches old age by more than a third of his valuation, while a woman decreases only by a third…for people say ‘If there’s an old man in the house, there is something broken in the house…if there’s an old woman in the house , there is a treasure in the house adds a good sign in the house.’
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. vayikra 18:5
    וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת חֻקֹּתַי וְאֶת מִשְׁפָּטַי אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה אֹתָם הָאָדָם וָחַי בָּהֶם אֲנִי יְהוָה.
    my translation: You will keep My laws and My rules, for one who does them will live by them, I am the Lord

    the “live by them” is to be seen that all of the mitzvot are here for us to live by, NOT to make our lives miserable.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. oh, and i really like devarim (deut.) 11:13 – וְהָיָ֗ה אִם־שָׁמֹ֤עַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ֙ אֶל־מִצְוֺתַ֔י אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם לְאַהֲבָ֞ה אֶת־יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶם֙ וּלְעָבְד֔וֹ בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֖ם וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁכֶֽם׃
    If you obey the commandments that I command you this day, loving the LORD your God and serving Him with all your heart and soul,
    i think that is the basics of judaism and life: loving God and serving Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This may be a bit obvious, but Deut. 6:4-5. The Shema. ‘Listen up (and do something), Israel! Your God is ONE! Love Him with all your heart, soul, and strength.’ And in conjunction with Lev. 19:18 “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Loving God and loving each other. Simple recipe for life – one that is not always simple to live out.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If I may veer off into the New Testament, I kind of like Matthew 7:16–By their fruits you will know them. It’s just good, secular advise in any case, appropriate in any age, location, or political climate, and it made me wonder if Jesus was sometimes a bit impatient with all the dumb questions.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “If any of thine that are dispersed be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will the L-RD thy G-d gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee.” – Deuteronomy 30:4, JPS 1917 Tanach

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As a non-theistic Buddhist, one verse in particular appeals to me due to its universality: “You shall not revenge nor bear a grudge against the children of your people and love your neighbor as yourself, I am HASHEM!” (Vayikra 19:18)

    Liked by 1 person

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