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The Secret Chord (Eishet Chayil)

Preview: A theory: Eishet Chayil was written by Bat Sheva to warn Shlomo HaMelech against repeating the marital mistakes of his parents. Those mistakes were the ones forewarned about in our parshah. Indeed, read carefully and you’ll discover echoes of these laws playing themselves out throughout the lives of David, Bat Sheva, and Shlomo: (1) Bat Sheva was a quasi-yefat to’ar; (2) Natan’s parable plays off the law of the two wives; (3) Shlomo was apt to become a ben sorer u’moreh; (4) the book of Mishlei records the “mussar” which David and Bat Sheva gave their son to prevent this outcome (hence, for example, the book’s extensive focus on the “mussar” of parents, drawing repeatedly from the exact language of ben sorer u’moreh); (5) Eishet Chayil—the last chapter in Mishlei—constitutes the climax of this rebuke.

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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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Pisa Huts (Sukkot)

Preview: When Yeravam rebels against the Davidic dynasty, shortly after the death of Shlomo HaMelech, one of his first steps is to make up his own holiday that competes with the festival of Sukkot. Why? Do any other aspects of Yeravam’s revolution seem aimed at undermining the festival of Sukkot? And why does Amos talk about “David’s fallen Sukkah” when he predicts the restoration of the Davidic dynasty – a very curious phrase, but one that remains in our prayers until today? All this in more. Part IV of a four-part series.

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Face Time (Sukkot)

Preview: Beginning on the first of Elul, and through to the end of Sukkot, we recite Psalm 27: “L’David Hashem Ori V’yishi.” What’s this psalm all about? Is it an entirely original composition – or might it be built upon a prayer which Moshe had once offered, all the way back during the aftermath of the Golden Calf? Part III of a four-part series.

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Show Me Your Waze (Sukkot)

Preview: The Torah reading for Shabbat Chol HaMoed of Sukkot is Exodus 33:12-34:26. It’s the story of Moshe praying for Hashem to forgive b’nei Yisrael, following the incident of the Golden Calf. But why read it now? In what way is this story connected to the holiday of Sukkot? And, while we’re at it: could it be that Shlomo HaMelech was actually alluding to this incident, generations later, in his prayer upon the inauguration of the Beit HaMikdash? Part II of a four-part series.

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Cloud Storage (Sukkot)

Preview: During the Haftarah for the second day of Sukkot, we read about Shlomo HaMelech’s inauguration of the Beit HaMikdash, which occurred at the time of Sukkot. Why did Shlomo HaMelech choose to hold this ceremony at the time of Sukkot, specifically? What other details of this ceremony seem to point back to the holiday of Sukkot? Is the Beit HaMikdash itself intended to emulate the Sukkah, perhaps (or, for that matter, vice versa)? Part I of a four-part series.

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