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Around and Around (Asarah B’Tevet)

Preview: Shofar blasts. Cities that are encircled, encamped against, besieged, and breached. A foreign family, known as the Rachavites/Rechavites, who live both within and yet beyond the city, earn praise for their virtue. Rescues by rope. Night-time escapes. Pursuit by the king’s men. The valley of Aravah. The environs of Yericho. Temple spoils. Entry into a land. Exile from a land.

What Biblical story contains all of these elements? Two stories, actually. Nor are these the only connections between them…

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Urban Planning (Shoftim)

Preview: Twice in two weeks, the Torah focuses upon b’nei Yisrael’s ease of access to a given city: the “sacred city” and the “sanctuary city.” The way the Torah address the problem of access differs by case, offering us, perhaps, an important window into the Torah’s axiological priorities.

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Higher Desires (Shoftim)

Preview: The phrase “with all the cravings of your soul” appears only three times in the Torah. How are these three passages connected?

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Out of the Ark (Shemini)

Preview: Does this week’s haftarah, which re-tells how David moved the aron to Yerushalayim, contain hidden references to the Plishtim?

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