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Preview: Crunch the textual data and you’ll discover that the Biblical priest is not primarily an officiant of ritual, nor a custodian of the sanctuary, nor a preacher, nor a teacher, nor a cantor, nor a judge, nor a fundraiser, nor a public intellectual. Above all else, he is a social worker.
Preview: If you pay careful attention, you’ll notice that there’s a subtle play on words between the words רעב/רעבון (hunger) and the words ערב/ערבון (collateral/guarantee) that takes place in this week’s parshah.
Preview: Commentary on assorted observations, including: (1) From one vantage point, Adam and Eve’s mistake seems to be that they sought to take fruit from the world before producing fruit for the world; (2) Notice that the lifespans in the genealogy of Adam are divided into two: the years before birthing children and the years after birthing children; (3) The first people named “father” in all of the Torah are those who have no children – they are the “fathers” of inventions!
Preview: Why did Hashem forbid Bilaam from travelling to Mo’av, then allow him to go, then nearly take his life, then permit him to continue—only to thwart the entire purpose of his travels in the end? And what are we supposed to take out of the strange episode in which Bilaam quarrels with his donkey? And why does Bilaam never express his own position on the political conflict he’s summoned to join? And are all these questions connected?
Preview: The idiomatic use of “ekev” – “because;” “on the heels” – is exceedingly rare in the Torah. In fact, it may function as a technical term of sorts, for it appears in the Torah only five times in total, and always in the context of Hashem’s pledge concerning the Promised Land. Small wonder that we find textual parallels between all these texts. What do they mean?
Preview: In the haftarot of both Tazria and Metzora, salvation is orchestrated by society’s most marginalized members: slaves, maidservants, and lepers. It’s actually part of a shift of focus that occurs in the end of sefer Melachim. What’s going on?