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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 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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Are We There Yet? (Bo)

Preview: There’s a curious focus on the packing of “provisions” (צדה) that we find when b’nei Yisrael travel between Egypt and Canaan in Yosef’s days; and again, on the eve of the exodus in the book of Shemot; and again during their entry into the land in the days of Yehoshua. What’s its significance, and how is it related to the concept of “tarrying” (להתמהמה) – another concept that crops up a lot in these contexts?

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Shakespeare and Sodom (Vayera)

Preview: On parallels between “Lot’s exodus” from Sodom vs. b’nei Yisrael’s exodus from Egypt, and the meaning of these connections.

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Synthesis and Statehood (Yom Ha’atzmaut)

Preview: A strange pattern: things that happen in “twos” for Moshe happen in “ones” for Yehohua. Also, why does sefer Yehoshua keep repeating the phrase “עד תום כל הגוי?”

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But Who’s Counting? (Pekudei)

Preview: The verb פ.ק.ד has this funny way of cropping up at all critical junctures in the book of Shemot: from the burning bush to the exodus to Sinai to the Golden Calf to the accounting of the mishkan. What does it mean?

 

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