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Double Blind (Toldot)

Preview: The “sibling swap” Rivkah orchestrates against Yitzchak is simply a version of the very same ruse he had orchestrated a chapter earlier, against Avimelech. In fact, all of the major stories from sefer Bereshit through the beginning of sefer Shemot may have their roots in the ruse that the patriarchs pulled on Avimelech/Pharaoh – and the literary links are there to demonstrate it.

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Group Test (Vayera)

Preview: The Torah presents akedat Yitzchak as a test of Avraham’s. But what if Yitzchak refuses to participate – does Avraham fail? Yes, he does – for the ultimate test of spiritual greatness is not whether one is willing to follow Hashem’s will, but rather, whether the way one has led one’s life inspires the next generation to follow after you.

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On the Heels (Ekev)

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?

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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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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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Fruit and Fragrance (Toldot)

Preview: In many ways, the “stealing the birthright” episode seems to bring us back to “eating the fruit of Eden” episode. In both, it is actually lack of trust and of communication between husbands and wives which produces spiritual breakdown.

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Perceiving Providence (Vayera)

Preview: Commentary on assorted observations, including: (1) the delay and/or distinction, throughout Tanach, between divine “remembrance” and divine communication/action; (2) possible double entendre (or really, two double entendres) in the phrase “מה לך הגר, אל תיראי;” (3) parallels between Avraham hosting guests, at the beginning of the parshah, and Avraham binding Yitzchak, at the end.

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Plea for Privacy (Chayei Sarah)

Preview: The tent as a symbol of privacy in Tanach, and how that symbol manifests in the lives of Avraham/Sarah vs. Yitzchak/Rivkah.

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