Weekly Torah Reading, Vayyeshev, December 9, 2017

His Father’s Face   In this week’s reading, it is said that Jacob “loved Joseph more than all his other sons, because he was the son of his old age” (Gen 37:3). This sounds like a mistake: if the phrase …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Vayyishlaḥ, December 2, 2017

Dinah’s Story   The story of Dinah (Genesis chapter 34) starts badly enough: Jacob’s only daughter is seized and raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor. (Hamor is the ruler of a city that, perhaps not coincidentally, bears the same …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Vayyetze, November 25, 2017

Interpreting the Angels   Jacob left Beer-sheba bound for Haran. Stopping for the night at a certain place, he fell asleep and had a strange dream. “And behold, a ladder was set in the ground, and its top reached to …

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Weekly Torah Reading Toledot November 18, 2017

A Common Message   The three encounters between Jacob and Esau in this week’s reading seem to contain a common message. The first time the twins “meet” is in their mother’s womb. They pressed hard against each other, so hard …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Ḥayyei Sarah, November 11, 2017

Like Uncle, Like Nephew (Sort of)   In this week’s portion, Abraham sends his (unnamed) servant to the city of Nahor to find a bride for his son Isaac. When the servant arrives, we are introduced to two important figures: …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Vayyera’, November 4, 2017

“Now I know”—“What? Didn’t You Know Before?”     Nowadays, this week’s Torah reading justly troubles a great many readers. It contains the famous account of God’s command to Abraham to kill his own son, sacrificing him like some animal …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Lekh-Lekha, October 28, 2017

Abraham’s Request   This week’s reading contains one particularly puzzling episode. After Abraham has arrived in Canaan, a famine strikes the land, and he and his wife Sarah are forced to travel down to Egypt in search of food. (Egypt, …

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Weekly Torah Reading, Noaḥ, October 21, 2017

The Drunken Tzaddik     Humanity, according to the Torah, got off to a bad start. First, Adam and Eve violated the one commandment that God gave them and were subsequently kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Then their …

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