Category Archives: Parshat Hashavua

The Fall and Rise of Levi, Once and Future Priest

We discussed in a recent post (link) the motif throughout Bereishit of bechira over bechora – that in almost every instance, the firstborn is passed over in deference to a favored younger sibling. As Leah’s oldest two children, Reuven and Shimon should rightfully have received the priesthood and … Continue reading

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Caste and Privilege: Bechora and Bechira in Sefer Bereishit

Watching the drama unfold when Yaakov blesses Yosef’s sons in Parshat Vayechi (see Bereishit 48:13-22), two questions emerge: Why does Yaakov elect to bless Yosef’s sons (or Yosef himself, if you prefer) before blessing his older sons? And why does Yaakov switch … Continue reading

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Pharaoh’s Man Problem and the Birth of Jewish Exceptionalism

Did Pharaoh have a problem with men? Or did he have a larger agenda in ordering the boys to be killed? Exploring two parallel stories – the first near the beginning of Parshat Lech Lecha, the second spanning the end … Continue reading

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Parshat Pinchas: Advocacy and Partnership in Zealotry

This past week we read one of rarest of all Haftarot (thanks to Shlomo for this link), one that has not been read since 2005 and will not be read again until 2035. What makes the Haftarah so rare is … Continue reading

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United We Fall, Divided We Stand: The Complicated Legacy of Aharon

Who was Aharon? Certainly, if one were to write a biography of our first Kohen Gadol, this week’s Parsha of Ki Tisa would play a prominent role. Yet Aharon’s role in the story of the Chet Ha’egel (Golden Calf) is … Continue reading

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The Jew-Brew, Part 2 – Yitzchak’s Prayer: Human Intimacy as Metaphor for Divine Connection

Previously we have explored the role of faith in the creation of the Jewish People. What other ingredients needed to be discovered and added to the embryo that would eventually develop into our Nation? Let’s proceed further into Parshat Toldot: … Continue reading

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Parshat Shoftim: The Punishment of Not Being Punished

Parshat Shoftim includes a dire warning for those idol-worshiping nations with whom the Jews are unable to establish a peace treaty: דברים פרק כ (יג) … וּנְתָנָהּ ה’ אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּיָדֶךָ וְהִכִּיתָ אֶת כָּל זְכוּרָהּ לְפִי חָרֶב: (יד) רַק הַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף … Continue reading

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Under the Altar and Dreaming: Sustaining עקידה in a World of Choice

I have been swamped with work lately and unable to post, leaving me with a backlog of ideas for later. Meanwhile, I was thinking over Shabbat about an essay I wrote about ten years ago when I was taking an … Continue reading

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Shavuot: Under the Mountain and Dreaming

For Shavuot, I am posting something I wrote many years ago, apparently just before Shavuot 2003, and shared by email at that time to some family and friends. I was finishing my first year of YU at the time. Shavuos: Standing … Continue reading

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HaShomer Ani Lecha Yerushalayim: Haftarot of Acharei Mot and Kedoshim

If you were in Shul yesterday morning, around the combined Torah reading of Acharei and Kedoshim, you may have noticed a peculiar sight: we read two Parshiot, but subsequently read the Haftarah of the first one, Acharei, rather than the … Continue reading

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