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Grave Mistake (Beshalach)

Preview: “Was it for lack of graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” Some see this as the first recorded example of Jewish self-deprecating humor. But maybe the suggestion wasn’t meant sarcastically. Maybe the people meant it seriously. Indeed, they might have had good reason to. To realize why, just think back to Yaakov and Yosef’s deathbed requests…

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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?

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The Wheel Deal (Pesach)

Preview: A famous midrash claims that “a maidservant at the Sea of Reeds saw/perceived what even Yechezkel son of Buzi did not.” What’s motivating this midrash? Perhaps it’s the pointed parallels between the splitting of the sea and Yechezkel’s “vision of the chariot.”

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On the Rocks (Tu B’Shvat)

Preview: Why did Hashem command Moshe to strike the rock? Might it have to do with the people’s threat to cast rocks at Moshe, only a few verses earlier?

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Sending Signs (Shelach)

Preview: The battle at Kadesh is the second one fought by b’nei Yisrael during their time in the desert. In many ways, it represents a direct reversal of their first one, which they had fought a year earlier, at Rephidim. What are the connections, and what do they mean?

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The Sound of Music (Beshalach)

Preview: There are dozens of phonetic word-plays hidden within the lyrics of the Song of the Sea and the water crisis at Marah, which combine to communicate a deep irony of these stories which we often miss.

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Sound Investments (Beshalach)

Preview: A short homiletic thought: When the people store mann in their tents, it rots. When Aaron stores it in the mishkan, it does not. There’s a lesson here: investments in material luxury don’t ultimately yield the returns we might have hoped; investments in ethical education do.

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