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Dr. Shawn Zelig Aster

Dr. Shawn Zelig Aster

Dr. Shawn Zelig Aster is an assistant professor of Bible at Yeshiva University and has written several articles for

Isaiah – Chapter 57

June 14, 2012, by

Isaiah says that a righteous person – Rashi says like King Yoshiyahu – has perished, but nobody cares. Nobody understands that the righteous are being taken away because of the evil that is to come. It’s better for the righteous to sleep with their ancestors than to witness the tragedies to come. Those remaining should […]

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Isaiah – Chapter 56

June 13, 2012, by

G-d says to keep justice and to act charitably because His salvation is near and His righteousness will be revealed. Happy is the person who holds tight to Shabbos, being careful not to profane it. Let no convert think that G-d will keep him separate from the rest of the nation and let no eunuch […]

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Isaiah – Chapter 55

June 12, 2012, by

Isaiah tells all who are thirsty to go to the water and all those with no money to go buy food – it will not be an impediment. (As in many places, the food and drink are a metaphor for Torah.) Why should you work and pay for no food? Listen to G-d and eat […]

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Isaiah – Chapter 44

June 1, 2012, by

G-d tells Israel to listen: the One Who made us and formed us in utero, He will save us. He will pour His spirit upon us like water on the thirsty. The Jews will “sprout” from it like willows by the water. They will identify themselves as being for G-d and part of Israel. (According […]

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Isaiah – Chapter 43

May 31, 2012, by

Now G-d says to Israel not to fear; He is the one Who redeemed them and they are His. When they pass through waters, they will not drown and when they pass through fire, they will not be burned. (Sadly, we know that this was not literally true of individuals. The prophecy refers to the […]

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Isaiah – Chapter 42

May 30, 2012, by

G-d says: My servant Israel is not like the other nations. Israel is My chosen one, upon whom I have placed My spirit. They will serve as an example to the nations. They will neither weaken nor tire before establishing justice in the land. This is the word of G-d, Who created Heaven and Earth […]

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Isaiah – Chapter 41

May 29, 2012, by

G-d now tells the nations to be silent in order to hear His words. After that, they may approach and speak if they wish to appeal their judgments. G-d was the One Who sent Abraham, who preached righteousness, from the East. Abraham confronted the four kings (in Genesis 14) and G-d caused Abraham to rule […]

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Isaiah – Chapter 40

May 28, 2012, by

This chapter is the famous “Nachamu,” read as the haftarah the Shabbos following Tisha b’Av. Often translated as “be comforted, My people,” Rashi informs us that such is not really the case. Grammatically, G-d is speaking to the prophets and telling them, “comfort My people.” This is a prophecy for Messianic times, or for the […]

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Isaiah – Chapter 39

May 27, 2012, by

This chapter, like the last one, corresponds to events in II Kings chapter 20. When he heard that Chizkiyahu had been ill and recovered, the king of Babylonia sent messengers with a gift to him. Chizkiyahu was excited to have these guests and he gave them the “grand tour” – his treasury, the palace, even […]

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Isaiah – Chapter 38

May 26, 2012, by

This chapter parallels II Kings chapter 20. King Chizkiyahu became ill and Isaiah went to visit him. Isaiah told Chizkiyahu to get his affairs in order, because he was going to die. Chizkiyahu turned to wall and prayed and cried. G-d told Isaiah to return to the king and let him know that his prayers […]

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