Weekly Torah Reading, Mishpatim, February 25, 2017

Is Abortion Legal?   This week’s reading contains numerous laws governing various aspects of daily life. At first, some of these might seem far removed from our own daily lives. You’re probably not going to sell your daughter into slavery …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Yitro, February 18, 2017

Two Tablets   Ancient readers asked a question about the Ten Commandments, one that occurs to few people nowadays: Why did they need to be written on two stone tablets? One rectangular tablet certainly would have been sufficient—in fact, archaeologists …

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Weekly Torah Reading Beshallaḥ February 11, 2017

Two Great Songs   This week’s reading prominently features the Song of the Sea—the song that the Israelites sang after their miraculous crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 15). For this reason, this Shabbat is also known as Shabbat Shirah, …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Bo’, February 4, 2017

With a Heavy Heart   Among the not-so-brilliant sermons I’ve heard over the years was one about this week’s Torah reading, Bo’. “The Almighty,” the rabbi began, “says to Moses, bo’ el par‘oh, ‘Come to Pharaoh.’ He doesn’t say ‘Go …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Va’era, January 28, 2017

“Can I Get that in Writing?”     The first two verses of this week’s reading have long posed a problem for interpreters. God says to Moses, “I am the LORD [here the text uses God’s special name, written with …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Vayḥi, January 14, 2017

His Father’s Countenance   In this week’s reading, Jacob, near death, assembles his sons to give them his final words. These are commonly known as “Jacob’s blessings,” but in fact Jacob has some harsh things to say to some of …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Vayyiggash, January 7, 2017

The Wagons Tell the Tale   When Jacob’s sons returned to Canaan to tell their father the good news—that his long-lost son Joseph was still alive—at first he didn’t believe them. Why should he? If what they were saying now …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Shabbat Hanukkah/Mikketz, December 31, 2016

Down with Repetition!   Sometimes the Bible doesn’t seem to like exact repetition. In this week’s reading, for example, the Torah starts by relating Pharaoh’s dream: Seven cows, “well favored in appearance and plump-skinned,” come up from the Nile to …

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