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To Forgive is Human (Ki Tissa)

Preview: Are the “Thirteen Attributes of Mercy” modelled upon the mercy Yosef once showed his brothers?

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Pisa Huts (Sukkot)

Preview: When Yeravam rebels against the Davidic dynasty, shortly after the death of Shlomo HaMelech, one of his first steps is to make up his own holiday that competes with the festival of Sukkot. Why? Do any other aspects of Yeravam’s revolution seem aimed at undermining the festival of Sukkot? And why does Amos talk about “David’s fallen Sukkah” when he predicts the restoration of the Davidic dynasty – a very curious phrase, but one that remains in our prayers until today? All this in more. Part IV of a four-part series.

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Face Time (Sukkot)

Preview: Beginning on the first of Elul, and through to the end of Sukkot, we recite Psalm 27: “L’David Hashem Ori V’yishi.” What’s this psalm all about? Is it an entirely original composition – or might it be built upon a prayer which Moshe had once offered, all the way back during the aftermath of the Golden Calf? Part III of a four-part series.

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Show Me Your Waze (Sukkot)

Preview: The Torah reading for Shabbat Chol HaMoed of Sukkot is Exodus 33:12-34:26. It’s the story of Moshe praying for Hashem to forgive b’nei Yisrael, following the incident of the Golden Calf. But why read it now? In what way is this story connected to the holiday of Sukkot? And, while we’re at it: could it be that Shlomo HaMelech was actually alluding to this incident, generations later, in his prayer upon the inauguration of the Beit HaMikdash? Part II of a four-part series.

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Cloud Storage (Sukkot)

Preview: During the Haftarah for the second day of Sukkot, we read about Shlomo HaMelech’s inauguration of the Beit HaMikdash, which occurred at the time of Sukkot. Why did Shlomo HaMelech choose to hold this ceremony at the time of Sukkot, specifically? What other details of this ceremony seem to point back to the holiday of Sukkot? Is the Beit HaMikdash itself intended to emulate the Sukkah, perhaps (or, for that matter, vice versa)? Part I of a four-part series.

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We All Make Mistakes (Yom Kippur)

Preview: The most significant details of Yom Kippur seem to all be modeled upon the kohen gadol’s historical failures. The date recalls the Golden Calf. The prohibitions recall the people’s attempt to gain atonement. And the Temple rituals are introduced in explicit contrast to the trespass of Nadav and Avihu! What’s going on?

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The Avengers (Masei)

Preview: No less than four times throughout the Torah do we find the tribesmen of Levi taking justice into their own hands, by taking the lives of those deemed deserving of death. In other words, those responsible for running the arei miklat—those tasked with discouraging the practice of vigilante justice—were none other than the nation’s most prominent vigilantes. What’s going on?

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Seeing Stars (Ki Tissa)

Preview: Rashi, citing the midrash, claims that Pharaoh foresaw the incident of the Golden Calf during the plague of locusts. Underlying that claim are a series of remarkable textual parallels between the two incidents: locusts and Golden Calf. What are they, and what do they mean?

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In Man’s Image (Ki Tissa)

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