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Father Favors (Vayigash)

Preview: Why were the kohanim granted special exemptions from Yosef’s redistribution regime? Might it be because his own father-in-law was a kohen? And might the parallels between Yosef’s role dispensing bread rations as viceroy, and his earlier experience serving in Potiphar’s house, also be relevant in this regard?

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Where the Chips Fall (Nitzavim)

Preview: Rashi identifies the “wood choppers” in this week’s parshah as the Giveonites from sefer Yehoshua. What’s the deeper meaning behind this connection – and how does the law of the accidental murderer, which also features a “wood chopper,” illuminate this connection?

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Why Envy? (Korach)

Preview: Rashi claims that Datan and Aviram where the men who collected excess mann earlier in the Torah. What is motivating this claim? A series of pointed textual parallels, it seems – and deep insight into the nature of envy.

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Bread and Curses (Shelach)

Preview: On the relationship between three stories (mann-collecter, wood-gatherer, blasphemer) and three laws (Shabbat, challah, lechem ha-panim) – and how the theme of “redistributive justice” may be the key to understanding their literary connection.

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The Matchmakers (Vayakhel)

Preview: There’s a strange midrash about the nesi’im underestimating how much b’nei Yisrael would donate to the mishkan. To understand it, we must look to the last episode where the nesi’im appeared: in the story of the mann, where they criticized the nation for gathering to excess.

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Seeing Stars (Ki Tissa)

Preview: Rashi, citing the midrash, claims that Pharaoh foresaw the incident of the Golden Calf during the plague of locusts. Underlying that claim are a series of remarkable textual parallels between the two incidents: locusts and Golden Calf. What are they, and what do they mean?

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Making Partner (Vayetze)

Preview: The midrashic partnership between Yissachar may have its textual origins in a much older partnership: that of Rachel and Leah, which immediately preceded the birth of these two boys.

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Digging Deeper (Toldot)

Preview: Almost word-for-word, the blessing Yitzchak receives before moving to Gerar is the blessing his father received following akedat Yitzchak. Some thoughts on how that blessing materialized during Yitzchak’s stay with Avimelech – and how the literary legacy of the akedah illustrates that true sacrifice never really ends.

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The Split-Screen Scene (Vaetchanan)

Preview: “And I prayed to God at that time”: when, exactly, did this prayer occur? If you trace the chronology carefully, you’ll come to a startling conclusion: Moshe’s prayer coincided with Bilaam’s! There are indeed some remarkable parallels between their prayers – and a profound message underlying their connection.

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From Within a Cloud (Mishpatim)

Preview: At the burning bush, Hashem promised Moses that after the exodus, he and the people would “worship Me on this mountain.” When exactly was this prophesy fulfilled? There’s actually quite a few interpretive possibilities, and realizing this may help us explain the confusing and disjointed way in which the Torah presents what happened at Sinai.

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