What's Pshat?

Home » Articles posted by What's Pshat? (Page 2)

Author Archives: What's Pshat?

Fights, Fields, and Family (Shoftim)

Preview: Is there any organizing principle for the apparently random series of laws that makes up the bulk of sefer Devarim? Well, there sure seem to be a lot of laws about war; and a lot of laws about fields; and a lot of laws about family—and when you pay close attention, you notice that they tend to cluster together in recurring patterns.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

The Calf and its Other Half (Zachor)

Preview: If you read closely, you’ll notice something most peculiar: as it turns out, the sin of chet ha’egel unfolds in ways eerily reminiscent of the way that the confrontation with Amalek did. What are the connections, and what do they mean?

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Let it Be (Mishpatim)

Preview: A short thought: “Come up the mountain, and ‘be there'” – what exactly does that mean? Did Hashem really command Moshe to do nothing more than “be?” If so, why? Maybe because other leaders had struggled with this imperative in the immediately preceding verses.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Fish Out of Water (Vayechi)

Preview: A short thought: Have you ever noticed the immense irony inherent in the popular children’s song, “Hamalach?” Yaakov’s wish for his grandchildren is that they “be like fish in the midst of the land.” Yet fish don’t thrive on land—quite the contrary!

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Father Favors (Vayigash)

Preview: Why were the kohanim granted special exemptions from Yosef’s redistribution regime? Might it be because his own father-in-law was a kohen? And might the parallels between Yosef’s role dispensing bread rations as viceroy, and his earlier experience serving in Potiphar’s house, also be relevant in this regard?

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Reinventing the Heel (Vayishlach)

Preview: The night that Yaakov wrestled the angel and prepared to reunite with his brother bears uncanny parallels to the day that the first human was created and separated into two beings: Adam and Eve. Much might be said by way of interpreting these literary connections, but, at the most basic level, what they suggest is that the “creation” of a human being is not a one-time event. Although we are given biological life at birth, as we grow up and mature, we eventually come to play an active role in the process of creating our own personalities.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Gates and Ladders (Vayetze)

Preview: On the relationship between Yaakov’s ladder and the Tower of Bavel (a parallel others have noted previously) and how that connection may illuminate the blessing Hashem gives to Yaakov as he flees home.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

No Other Brothers (Vayetze)

Preview: Study carefully the dialogues of Yaakov Avinu in this week’s parshah and you will notice something strange: Yaakov seems to refer to just about everybody as his “brother.” The sense we get is that, having grown estranged from his biological brother, Yaakov now finds himself searching high and low for “brotherhood” of another sort.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Empty Handed (Vayetze)

Preview: Serving a “master.” Seeking a “holiday” to offer “sacrifices.” “Three days” of journey. “Seeing” the “face.” Leaving “empty handed.” Role of “ears” and of “males” emphasized. Which Biblical text includes all these details? Six (!) actually: Lavan and Yaakov; Israel in Egypt; the Sinai revelation; the Golden Calf; the pilgrimage law; and the law of severance gifts. How Yaakov’s sojourn in Lavan’s house morphed into the mitzvah of aliyah l’regel and ha’anakah

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

The Secret Chord (Eishet Chayil)

Preview: A theory: Eishet Chayil was written by Bat Sheva to warn Shlomo HaMelech against repeating the marital mistakes of his parents. Those mistakes were the ones forewarned about in our parshah. Indeed, read carefully and you’ll discover echoes of these laws playing themselves out throughout the lives of David, Bat Sheva, and Shlomo: (1) Bat Sheva was a quasi-yefat to’ar; (2) Natan’s parable plays off the law of the two wives; (3) Shlomo was apt to become a ben sorer u’moreh; (4) the book of Mishlei records the “mussar” which David and Bat Sheva gave their son to prevent this outcome (hence, for example, the book’s extensive focus on the “mussar” of parents, drawing repeatedly from the exact language of ben sorer u’moreh); (5) Eishet Chayil—the last chapter in Mishlei—constitutes the climax of this rebuke.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us