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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.

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Blessings in Disguise (Vezot Habracha)

Preview: Why are there so many veiled allusions to Esav in Moshe’s parting blessing to b’nei Yisrael? A very quick idea on this week’s parshah, along with an accompanying source sheet.

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In the Limelight (Ki Tavo)

Preview: In this week’s parshah, b’nei Yisrael are instructed to station themselves in a valley and plaster stones with “lime” (שיד). Why? Well, there’s one other “valley of lime” (שיד) in the Torah – עמק השדים, where the war of Sodom took place, all the way back in sefer Bereshit. Is there any connection between that story, and this week’s parshah? As it turns out, there are many. In fact, when we look carefully, and the sense we walk away with is that Moshe’s address in sefer Devarim is shot through with veiled allusions to the history of Lot. Why would Moshe do such a thing? Recall the challenge Moshe faced immediately before this sefer began – two-and-a-half tribes clamoring to reside east of the Jordan – and the pieces begin falling into place…

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