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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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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.

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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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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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Dream Bigger (Vayeshev)

Preview: A theory: Yosef’s dreams weren’t about his brothers – they were about the eleven chieftains of Esav, listed immediately prior to his dreams. In fact, near every detail of his dream fits into this line of interpretation.

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Big Questions (Toldot)

Four times in this week’s parshah we find the members of Yitzchak’s family asking themselves “למה”—“Why?” All involve life-or-death tradeoffs. What’s going on?

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Fruit and Fragrance (Toldot)

Preview: In many ways, the “stealing the birthright” episode seems to bring us back to “eating the fruit of Eden” episode. In both, it is actually lack of trust and of communication between husbands and wives which produces spiritual breakdown.

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Plea for Privacy (Chayei Sarah)

Preview: The tent as a symbol of privacy in Tanach, and how that symbol manifests in the lives of Avraham/Sarah vs. Yitzchak/Rivkah.

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