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Around and Around (Asarah B’Tevet)

Preview: Shofar blasts. Cities that are encircled, encamped against, besieged, and breached. A foreign family, known as the Rachavites/Rechavites, who live both within and yet beyond the city, earn praise for their virtue. Rescues by rope. Night-time escapes. Pursuit by the king’s men. The valley of Aravah. The environs of Yericho. Temple spoils. Entry into a land. Exile from a land.

What Biblical story contains all of these elements? Two stories, actually. Nor are these the only connections between them…

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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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Face Time (Sukkot)

Preview: Beginning on the first of Elul, and through to the end of Sukkot, we recite Psalm 27: “L’David Hashem Ori V’yishi.” What’s this psalm all about? Is it an entirely original composition – or might it be built upon a prayer which Moshe had once offered, all the way back during the aftermath of the Golden Calf? Part III of a four-part series.

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Show Me Your Waze (Sukkot)

Preview: The Torah reading for Shabbat Chol HaMoed of Sukkot is Exodus 33:12-34:26. It’s the story of Moshe praying for Hashem to forgive b’nei Yisrael, following the incident of the Golden Calf. But why read it now? In what way is this story connected to the holiday of Sukkot? And, while we’re at it: could it be that Shlomo HaMelech was actually alluding to this incident, generations later, in his prayer upon the inauguration of the Beit HaMikdash? Part II of a four-part series.

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Cloud Storage (Sukkot)

Preview: During the Haftarah for the second day of Sukkot, we read about Shlomo HaMelech’s inauguration of the Beit HaMikdash, which occurred at the time of Sukkot. Why did Shlomo HaMelech choose to hold this ceremony at the time of Sukkot, specifically? What other details of this ceremony seem to point back to the holiday of Sukkot? Is the Beit HaMikdash itself intended to emulate the Sukkah, perhaps (or, for that matter, vice versa)? Part I of a four-part series.

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The Coin Flip (Purim)

Preview: Is the “half shekel,” which we donate on the fast-day of Esther, related to the “half kingdom” which Achashverosh offered to give Esther following her fast? It seems so!

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Higher Desires (Shoftim)

Preview: The phrase “with all the cravings of your soul” appears only three times in the Torah. How are these three passages connected?

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Out of the Ark (Shemini)

Preview: Does this week’s haftarah, which re-tells how David moved the aron to Yerushalayim, contain hidden references to the Plishtim?

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