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The First Matriarch
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Parashat Chayei Sarah marks the transition of the matriarchy from Sarah to Rivkah. A great deal of the narrative is devoted to the death and burial of Sarah on the one hand, and the search for a wife for Yitzchak on the other. Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt”l once noted that with the death of […]
The Trial
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Parashat Vayeira recounts the tenth and last trial of Avraham: “The Binding of Yitzchak.” Avraham is commanded to sacrifice his beloved son, his long-awaited heir. Avraham does not complain, nor does he engage God in dialogue. He does not negotiate, as he had on other occasions. It seems that Avraham senses that this is something […]
Avraham’s Discovery
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בראשית פרק יב, א וַיֹּ֤אמֶר ה֙’ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶֽךָּ: God said to Avram, “Go, for yourself, from your country, from your birthplace, from your father’s home, to the land which I will show you….” (Bereishit 12:1)  Parashat Lech Lecha begins with God’s command to Avraham (Avram) to leave behind […]
In Hiding
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After the litany of curses articulated in Parashat Ki Tavo, it is hard to believe that any remain, yet one more is mentioned repeatedly in Parashat Vayelech: Then my anger shall be kindled against them on that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be […]
By Heaven
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In Ha’azinu, the penultimate parashah of the Torah, Moshe delivers his message in song. Although the parashah is replete with poetic allusions, the starting point for Moshe’s address is his call upon heaven to bear witness. Give ear, oh heavens and I will speak, and hear, oh earth, the words of my mouth. (D’varim 32:1) […]
Nowhere Man
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Shiur provided courtesy of Naaleh.com. In the final chapters of Devarim, Moshe warns the people of the implications of abandoning the word of God: The Land of Israel has a delicate constitution, and misconduct will lead to exile. It might seem a logical consequence of this sort of exile that the covenant between God and […]
Dirty Little Secrets
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What causes a society to unravel? What offenses bring about a polity’s destruction? What types of behavior cause a society to forfeit its right to exist? In a sense, this has been the major theme of the book of Devarim: Moshe’s parting words to the nation abound with warnings against the sins that will result […]
War and Peace
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From a moral perspective, one of the most difficult laws in the Torah is the law of the captive wife. Matrimony by force with any woman, and even more so with a member of an enemy nation who is plucked from the battlefield, shocks our sensibilities on so many levels. And lest we consider this […]
Just Justice
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A healthy society must have a functioning court system; this, to paraphrase popular wisdom, is what keeps people honest. A holy society, on the other hand, requires something more: A holy society is based upon the active pursuit of justice. The Torah describes these two spheres with two very enlightening terms: The court system is […]
Show Me the Money
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In this week’s Torah reading, Moshe continues to prepare the nation for their new life in the Land of Israel. He warns them – numerous times – not to follow the practices of the local pagans who worship their deities under “every leafy tree.” Instead, he tells them, they are to create a central place […]