Monday, June 18, 2007

Lists (3)

Top Five Books of Moses.

1 - Berayshis Best stories. Best characters. Best writing, especially the perfectly constructed first creation story. Bonus: The repeating motifs, and the network of cross references and allusions

2 - Shmos: Contains two of the best moments in the series (Red Sea and Sinai) but the narrative loses its way after Moses ascends the mountain for the second time. Suddenly, the fabulous stories and crisp writing inexplicably give way to a rather long and unfortunately tedious description of the Tabernacle.

3 - Devarim: Thousands of years later Moshe's valedictory still chills, inspires and lifts us up.

4 - Bamidbar: Some fine stories, but too much legal business.

5 - Vayikra: David Plotz puts it best: "...they mentioned "Leviticus" in the same hushed, terrified way that mariners mutter "Bermuda Triangle," or Hollywood executives whisper "Ishtar." Leviticus, I was warned, makes even learned rabbis weep with boredom, turns promising young Talmudic scholars into babbling US Weekly subscribers." An exaggeration of course - Leviticus has its moments (including "The Most Glorious Chapter in the Bible") but there's a reason why the smallest children traditionally start with this book.

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