The Observant Astronomer

The passing scene as observed by an observant Jew, who daylights as an astronomer.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


You've got to hand it to the Rabbis who divided up the Torah into weekly portions and the portions into aliyot. They really understood dramatic tension; how to keep the customers coming back for more. The classic example is the end of Mikeitz, where Yoseph sends his brothers back home without Binyamin. Cue ominous music. Roll closing credits. Make sure to tune in next week! But, really, for most of the first season-and-a-half ("Beginnings" and "Names"), there's hardly an episode that doesn't end without some dramatic tension or foreshadowing.

Take the second season so far:

Episode 1: Names
Moshe, having seen his first attempt to extract his people from slavery, only to have things go from bad worse, complains to G-d that this wasn't what he signed up for. G-d responds: Just watch me!

Episode 2: Revelation
Despite being wacked with seven horrible plagues, Paro appears to finally relent and agree to let the people go. But, once the hail ends, he hardens his heart again, just as G-d said he would.

Episode 3: Come to Paro
The Jews finally leave Egypt. Moshe gives them some new mitzvahs to keep. Ends on a high note giving closure to this part of the arc.

Episode 4: After Paro Sent Them
Here's an ominous title. This episode finally finishes off the Egyptian part of the story. It ends with a big battle scene and G-d's promise of perpetual war with Amalek.

Coming next week:
Episode 5: The Father-in-Law's Visit

There's a lot less dramatic tension from here on in though, especially in Season 3 ("Calling"). And Season 5 ("Words") is really a beautiful set of speeches that perhaps lose something from being chopped up. But that, perhaps, is a reason for the custom to read the whole thing together on Hoshanah Rabbah night. Nonetheless, would a "Viewer's Guide" not be in order?


Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der ┼íteg) said...

Torah as TV show? That's the coolest idea ever!

8:16 p.m., February 12, 2006  

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