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Deep Roots
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One of the basic necessities for any successful building project is quality raw materials. A building will only be as strong as the materials used to construct it, although a stable foundation, thoughtful and thorough design plans and capable artisans are other necessary components for a solid structure. The building of the Mishkan, of a […]
Not in Heaven
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As the chapters following the Revelation at Sinai unfold, the narrative seems to have been replaced by a slew of laws. Servants, cattle, damages and punitive obligations fill the pages of this week’s Torah portion, and it seems as if the lofty experience of standing at Sinai and witnessing the theophany has been eclipsed by […]
Dual Loyalty
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Hearing of the wonders that had transpired, Yitro, Moshe’s father in law, arrives in the Israelite encampment in the desert. He is genuinely happy to hear of the wondrous events that had brought about the Israelites’ reversal of fortune, transforming them from lowly slaves into free people. Yitro joins Moshe, Aharon and the elders in […]
Heavenly Bread
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The road from Egypt to Mount Sinai was not an easy one. The difficulty was not only due to the nature of the terrain the Israelites had to cross, or even the fact that their former masters pursued them in a murderous frenzy; the basic logistics of the care and feeding of such a large […]
Total Eclipse
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Something had changed; the earth had begun to shift under Pharaoh’s feet. Perhaps it was brought about by the crushing force of plague after plague, or perhaps the fear of what was yet to come had begun to take its toll. Either way, the cracks in Pharaoh’s facade had begun to show: Pharaoh’s servants were […]
You Say You Want a Devolution
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Hard work is one thing, servitude quite another. Hard work is respectable, respected, and laudable; slavery is humiliating, dehumanizing. When a person is treated like chattel, the divine spark with which every human being is endowed is eclipsed. More often than not, this is true not only in the eyes of the enslaver, but in […]
We Are Family
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In a sense, the entire first book of the Torah is a book of sibling intrigue, involving competition, jealousy and even murder. As Abel’s bloodied, lifeless body lies on the ground in a lonely field, God calls out to Cain and asks, or perhaps demands, “Where is your brother Abel?’ Cain responds cynically, “Am I […]
Love and Loss
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In the words of the great poet Alfred Tennyson, ‘Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.[1] Almost any person who lives long enough will experience and suffer loss; it is an inescapable fact of the human condition. Modern scholarship recognizes five distinct stages of loss and mourning: Denial, […]
Seeing a Ghost
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They never saw it coming: The dramatic, unexpected end to the saga in which they were embroiled was the last thing the brothers anticipated – and that was precisely the problem. The scrutiny to which they had been subjected seemed unwarranted. Why, of all the visitors who came to Egypt to purchase food, had they […]
Crime and Punishment
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The new chapter in the lives of Yaakov’s sons had started innocently enough: A famine in Canaan gave rise to a trip to Egypt to procure food. On the one hand, the brothers told themselves that they were doing what their father had asked them, and surely, in the merit of their filial devotion they […]