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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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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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Donkey Ears (Balak)

Preview: It seems that the story of Bilaam, in this week’s parshah, may find a “sequel” of sorts in a much later Biblical tale: Shaul’s conflict with Amalek.

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Reaching Out (Pesach)

Preview: The story of Pesach is the story of three “outstretched arms:” first, the daughter of Pharaoh, when reaching for baby Moshe; second, Hashem, when rescuing b’nei Yisrael; third, b’nei Yisrael, when leaving Egypt, and again during the battle with Amalek.

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On the Heels (Ekev)

Preview: The idiomatic use of “ekev” – “because;” “on the heels” – is exceedingly rare in the Torah. In fact, it may function as a technical term of sorts, for it appears in the Torah only five times in total, and always in the context of Hashem’s pledge concerning the Promised Land. Small wonder that we find textual parallels between all these texts. What do they mean?

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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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Willful Blindness (Vayera)

Preview: On the theme of “seeing”/”sight” in our parshah – and why Avimelech plays a much more central role in the story of Avraham and of his descendants than we typically appreciate.

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In Man’s Image (Ki Tissa)

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