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Now You’re Catching On (Mishpatim)

Preview: Rachel named her son “the child of my און;” and Yosef’s father-in-law was the “priest of און;” and Yaakov dubbed Reuven “the first of my און;” and the story of a boy named “אונן” is curiously situated in the middle of all these other events. Also: Rachel died through “אסון;” and Yaakov feared that he would lose Binyamin to an “אסון;” and Yosef married a woman named “אסנת.” What are we to make of all of this? Piecing together the puzzle, from Tanach to the midrash to ancient Egyptian literature.

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The Next Day (Yitro)

Preview: The suggestion that Yitro gave Moses for how to free up some of his time seems pretty obvious, so why didn’t Moses ever think of it himself? Maybe because the problem Yitro was trying to solve had never been a problem until that day; maybe it was Yitro’s arrival which created the problem, in the first place!

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They Won’t Trust Me (Shemot)

Preview: A theory: Moshe’s leprosy is directly linked to Miriam’s: only because Moshe doubted himself did others begin to as well. Ironically, his concerns – that others would question his prophetic abilities – became their own self-fulfilling prophecy.

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The Tyranny of Tomorrow (Shemot)

Preview: How Yosef’s lesson to the Egyptians – “worry about what tomorrow will bring” – illuminates all critical details of b’nei Yisrael’s enslavement (from their building of “store cities,” to Egypt’s concern about far-off wars, to the focus on “packing provisions” on the eve of the exodus).

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Can You Repeat That? (Mikketz)

Preview: How Yehudah’s speech to Yaakov echoes Yaakov’s earlier speech to Lavan – plus, other patterns of repetition in this monumental address.

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Hunger Games (Mikketz)

Preview: If you pay careful attention, you’ll notice that there’s a subtle play on words between the words רעב/רעבון  (hunger) and the words  ערב/ערבון (collateral/guarantee) that takes place in this week’s parshah.

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Just Do More (Vayeshev)

Preview: At every turn, Yosef succeeds because he does more than is asked of him: when searching for his brothers, when wardening in Egypt, and when interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams.

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Double Blind (Toldot)

Preview: The “sibling swap” Rivkah orchestrates against Yitzchak is simply a version of the very same ruse he had orchestrated a chapter earlier, against Avimelech. In fact, all of the major stories from sefer Bereshit through the beginning of sefer Shemot may have their roots in the ruse that the patriarchs pulled on Avimelech/Pharaoh – and the literary links are there to demonstrate it.

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Fruit for Thought (Bereshit)

Preview: Commentary on assorted observations, including: (1) From one vantage point, Adam and Eve’s mistake seems to be that they sought to take fruit from the world before producing fruit for the world; (2) Notice that the lifespans in the genealogy of Adam are divided into two: the years before birthing children and the years after birthing children; (3) The first people named “father” in all of the Torah are those who have no children – they are the “fathers” of inventions!

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Pisa Huts (Sukkot)

Preview: When Yeravam rebels against the Davidic dynasty, shortly after the death of Shlomo HaMelech, one of his first steps is to make up his own holiday that competes with the festival of Sukkot. Why? Do any other aspects of Yeravam’s revolution seem aimed at undermining the festival of Sukkot? And why does Amos talk about “David’s fallen Sukkah” when he predicts the restoration of the Davidic dynasty – a very curious phrase, but one that remains in our prayers until today? All this in more. Part IV of a four-part series.

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