Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Text as Art: Wordles

Wordles are word clouds that give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

I've created a Wordle for part of this week's portion, Va-Era. Exodus, chapter 8.  The portion covers many of the ten plagues. Once you click on it to enlarge, you'll be able to see the key words clearly and beautifully displayed.  God's name is in the lower left and Moses' up top.  Pharaoh is in light brown and Egypt (Mitzrayim) diagonally down and to the right.  But the word that appears most in the portion, the largest one of all here, is neither God nor Moses nor Pharaoh.  It's Vayomer - "And he said."  The negotiations may have broken down - often! - but they never stopped talking.  Let that be a lesson to all of us.  BTW, frogs (Tzefard'im) are in light blue, just over God's name.

Wordle: Exodus chapter 8

If you look at other Wordles in the gallery, you'll agree with me that the Hebrew language far outshines English in its graphic beauty. If you want to make a Hebrew Wordle of your own, go to and paste in a chapter of the Bible, which you can find at When you've created a Wordle, save it to the gallery and let me know where to find it, so we can share it with the congregation. What a great thing to do with your Bar Mitzvah portion! Enjoy!

Meanwhile you can also learn about this portion with our weekly G-dcast. A rousing "Let my people go" kicks of weeks of frogs and hail and boils, but Rabbi Katie Mizrahi explains that those weren't even the REAL plagues.

Parshat Va'eira from

More Torah cartoons at

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