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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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Lost and Found (Nitzavim/Rosh Hashana)

Preview: What do the wayward city (עיר הנדחת), the accidental murderer (רוצח בשוגג), the return of lost objects (השבת אבדה), and the ingathering of exiles (קבוץ גלויות) all have in common? About ten things, actually—including the theme of “going astray” (נדח); “losing and finding” (אבד/מצא); “seeking” or “searching” (מבקש/דרש); “closeness,” “distance,” and the “edge of the hearth/heavens” (קרב/רחק/קצה הארץ והשמים); and “returning” (שוב). More on the remarkable relationship between these passages in the following quick write up…

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