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Book the Date (Simchat Torah)

Preview: Why is Simchat Torah celebrated when it is? Perhaps because that is actually when the world’s very first cycle of Torah study was instituted. In fact, that’s a conclusion we might be able to arrive at using little more than the chronology available to us in the Torah itself.

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It’s All Coming Together Now (Tu B’Av)

Preview: Tu B’Av is a little-known holiday that Chazal associate with a bevy of Biblical events—from overcoming liability for the sin of the spies, to the case of Tzlofchad’s daughters, to reuniting with the tribe of Binyamin following civil war. These events are strewn across Tanach, seem to share little in common, and are never dated in Tanach itself to the fifteenth of Av. But careful study shows that they are, indeed, deeply connected—both to each other, and to the particular day to which Chazal date them. In fact, the key to figuring this all out may be to recognize that yet one other event falls out around the fifteenth of Av—one that Chazal never explicitly connect with this date: the war with Sichon, all the way back in sefer Bamidbar

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