What's Pshat?

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Out of This World (Nasso)

Preview: The laws of nezirut combine three elements – grapes/wine, hair, corpses – that seem to have little connection to each other. But that combination came up once before – after the deaths of Nadav and Avihu. And in fact, if you look carefully, you’ll discover that the laws of nezirut were taught on the same day that Nadav and Avihu died. That can’t be a coincidence!

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The Great Unknown (Bamidbar)

Preview: Our parshah poses a profound paradox. On the one hand, it appears to promote order; on the other hand, its disorganized literary style undermines that order at every turn. What’s going on?

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The Prince and the Precedent (Vayishlach)

Preview: Shechem’s assault of Dinah finds eerie precedent in the earlier “abducted sister” stories: Pharaoh’s and Avimelech’s abduction of Sarah, and Avimelech’s near abduction of Rivkah.

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On Second Glance (Chayei Sarah)

Preview: On the parallels between Avraham’s conflict with Avimelech and Avraham’s search for a daughter-in-law.

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It Ain’t Over ‘Till it’s Over (Vezot Habracha/Simchat Torah)

Preview: It’s well-known that Vezot Habracha is the parshah in which Moshe dies – but did you ever notice that there were four earlier parshahs in which Hashem instructed Moshe to die? How’d Moshe delay death so many times?

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The Rock Song (Yom Kippur/Haazinu)

Preview: The song Moshe leads on the last day of his life, all about “water” and “rocks,” seems to bring us back to an episode from earlier in his life where “rocks” and “water” took center stage…

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Higher Desires (Shoftim)

Preview: The phrase “with all the cravings of your soul” appears only three times in the Torah. How are these three passages connected?

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The Shadow of God (Vayakhel)

Preview: Why was Betzalel chosen as the architect for the mishkan? A short homiletic thought.

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The Sound of Music (Beshalach)

Preview: There are dozens of phonetic word-plays hidden within the lyrics of the Song of the Sea and the water crisis at Marah, which combine to communicate a deep irony of these stories which we often miss.

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A Tale of Two Cities (Shoftim)

Preview: Of all possible ways it could have chosen to illustrate unintentional murder, why did the Torah choose the case of the man who goes to chop down a tree? It’s not the only time in our parshah we meet a man who plans to chop down trees. Coincidence?

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