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Around and Around (Asarah B’Tevet)

Preview: Shofar blasts. Cities that are encircled, encamped against, besieged, and breached. A foreign family, known as the Rachavites/Rechavites, who live both within and yet beyond the city, earn praise for their virtue. Rescues by rope. Night-time escapes. Pursuit by the king’s men. The valley of Aravah. The environs of Yericho. Temple spoils. Entry into a land. Exile from a land.

What Biblical story contains all of these elements? Two stories, actually. Nor are these the only connections between them…

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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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It’s the Pits (Channukah)

Preview: An often-forgotten fact about Channukah: it came this close to ending as Tisha B’Av. Both occur against a backdrop of sinat chinam. The origins of such sinat chinam trace back to Yosef and his brothers, whom we read about during Channukah. And Yosef’s experience is heavily alluded to in Mizmor Shir Channukat Habayit – the psalm David authored upon first dedicating the Beit Hamikdash, and the psalm we recite on Channukah as we celebrate its re-dedication.

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Temple Run (Terumah)

Preview: The mishkan is introduced in this week’s parshah, yet several of its laws appeared as early as two weeks ago. Why were those laws introduced “early?”

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