I am a former Orthodox Jew who "went off the derech" in my early twenties, in the early 2000s.  Recently over the past 2-3 years I've developed an interest in the Torah and the development of Judaism from an academic perspective.  This blog serves as a reason for me to explore various topical areas and gives me an excuse to research them.  I will be attempting to post once a week near the middle of the week, on topics somewhat related to the parsha of the week for the upcoming Shabbat (Sabbath).  This page will give some information on various decisions I've made in topic choice as well as some more technical details.

While I will try to relate the posts each week to the parsha, or holidays, sometimes the topics will be broader.  In some sense, this is not dissimilar from the standard weekly dvar torah which sometimes tries to use the parsha as a basis to talk about a different topic. 

If there's a fundamental message that will be presented, it's that the Torah, and indeed the rest of Tanach was composed by human beings over various periods of time.  And that there's no good reason to believe there's anything divine about Tanach.  These arguments won't be made in a week, rather they'll be built up by a large amount of supporting evidence throughout the year.  Sometimes, however, the conclusions will be assumed in order to discuss some other topic, I'll make this clear when they are.  This occurs because of the desire to relate topically to the parsha which will cause me to address some higher level issues before the fundamental supporting evidence is presented.  Hopefully you'll bear with me on that.

Style Choices

I went with blogger for the option of leaving comments, and I hope people that read this will leave comments with their opinions.  I didn't like at all the way that some other media, like tumblr, manage this.

For the translations of verses that I'll quote, and there will be many.  I'll be using them almost entirely from the mechon mamre site.  The translations are a bit old-fashioned, but usually reasonably fair. I'll point out problems with the translation if I find it necessary. If I quote Rashi, or the Gemara, I'll try to provide my own translations.  It's far to cumbersome to do this for the Tanach though.

I will often write in transliterated Hebrew when necessary.  I'm not using Hebrew characters, mainly out of laziness, since formatting Hebrew and English text in the same document is a pain.   I will not be using the standard academic transliteration scheme, rather choosing a transliteration based on how I'd pronounce it, and how someone with a Jewish religious education would expect it to be written (as best I can).

I will not be writing out the tetragrammaton, YHWH, except in cases where it is necessary for explanatory purposes, like when I'm actually talking about the name (example: this sentence).  I'll instead use God.  The reasoning is mainly to not offend, and if someone is curious about the various kefirot I'm writing about, I'd rather them not turned away because of perceived callousness to religious precepts.  I will not, however, be using G-d.

I will use the Hebrew names for people and places.  So it will be Yaakov not Jacob.  I will always introduce the Hebrew names with the English version when first mentioned, except when they are near identical, (like Ruth or David).  I've debated on whether to do the same with books, and have decided to use the Hebrew names, except when giving references.  So I'll refer to Devarim, but I'll refer to verses as (Deut. 4:3).  Hopefully it's not too confusing.  I'm sure this was all very interesting, an I have no idea why you bothered to read this far, but thank you.


  1. The fact that you're running a parshat hashavua blog shows you can't quite stay off the derech.

    For everything else see:
    and the same on your iPhone podcast.

    All the best as you make your way back...


    1. When I told my parents I no longer believed in Judaism, they felt the same as you. That it was probably just a phase, a rumspringa or such. That was ten years ago.

      Right now the only thing that can persuade me is evidence, and it's going to take a whole lot of it.

  2. "More than the cow wants to nurse, the calf wants to be nurished". I miss my Wednesday morning torah!

    1. Sorry, got sick over the weekend. I'll have something at least for next week.

    2. Feel better kefira! "Torah tavlin!". Looking forward

  3. I'm easily amused, and you have not missed the mark for me. I am from Israel and a conservative Jew who loved to read the Bible and comment on it, mostly to myself. My understanding of Hebrew is my most important tool, and it helps that I am a retired (biomedical) researcher, which is how I got to you. One short note of criticism: Please use correct transliteration instead of the Orthodox abbreviations; for example, use "parashah" and not "parsha". And please keep on blogging, as what you write is usually very good and enlightening.

    1. The decision to use more "colloquial" transliterations rather than the more formal or academic ones was a conscious decision on my part. In some sense it's a personal one. These are what the words always were to me. It was always Kohelet and never Qoheleth. If I was writing in a more academic setting, I would definitely use the more academic style transliterations.