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Fights, Fields, and Family (Shoftim)

Preview: Is there any organizing principle for the apparently random series of laws that makes up the bulk of sefer Devarim? Well, there sure seem to be a lot of laws about war; and a lot of laws about fields; and a lot of laws about family—and when you pay close attention, you notice that they tend to cluster together in recurring patterns.

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Bird’s Eye View (Ki Teitzei)

Preview: In the “law of the mother bird” we find intriguing echoes of an apparently unrelated episode from much earlier in the Torah: the story of Yitro’s visit to Moshe in the desert.

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Tying it All Together (Ki Teitzei)

Preview: The tzitzit have a very specific purpose: they protect against arayot. Hence why the mitzvah appears where it does in Ki Tetzei; hence the language of “קדושים” and “זונים;” hence the ritualization of “כסוי” and “פתיל” and “כנפי הבגד;” hence the colorful stories concerning tzitzit in masechet Menachot; hence, perhaps, the custom to don a tallit gadol upon marriage; and hence many more details.

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