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    Talpiot – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. A relative lives in the Jerusalem suburb of Talpiot. What does this name mean?

    The beginnings of the suburb of Talpiot in the early 20th century

    A. The geography is important as well as the name. Talpiot is close to the Old City and the Kotel is walkable from there.

    In Jewish tradition it is a name for the Temple. In Shir HaShirim 4:4 the shepherd tells his maiden, “Your neck is like the Tower of David, banu’i l’talpi’ot, builded with turrets”.

    To say she had an impressive neck we understand: compare Shir HaShirim 7:5, “Your neck is like a tower of ivory”. But the turrets?

    One possibility is that the girl’s neck was built for jewellery, which would certainly be highly regarded in ancient times.

    Rabbinic exegesis, seeing the book as an allegory of the love between God and Israel, thought “Talpiot” was from a root (a-l-t) that meant “to teach”, indicating that the Torah was the highest source of knowledge.

    Another view divided the word into two, tel piyyot, “the hill to which people’s mouths turn”, i.e. the Temple.

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