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The Doorposts of Egypt
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In Parshat Bo, on the eve of the exodus from Egypt, the Torah records that the Jewish people celebrated their freedom even before leaving Egypt.  The first Passover seder which occurred in Egypt was different than the Passover that the Jewish people would be commanded to observe in subsequent years.  One key difference was the […]
The Magicians’ Failure
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In Parshat Vaeira we are told that the magicians of Egypt were able to replicate the plagues of blood and frogs but failed when it came to the plague of lice.  Rashi writes that the magicians tried, and failed, to replicate the lice. In the midst of a lice epidemic, they tried to make more […]
Decoding God’s Name
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In Parshat Shemot, Moshe asks God an ostensibly simple question:  What is Your name? God gives what appears to be a clear answer, “Eheye Asher Eheye.” However, there is nothing simple about this exchange when we take a closer look.  The big debate among the commentaries is whether Eheye Asher Eheye is a direct answer […]
The Unusual Circumstance Surrounding Joseph’s Burial
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Many of the Mefarshim and students of Tanach spend time analyzing the burial of Jacob, while the burial of Joseph stays largely under the radar. No doubt there is much greater fanfare attached with Jacob’s death, and many more verses. Nonetheless it is the death of Joseph that quite literally ends the book of Genesis […]
Fear of the Unknown
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In the beginning of Parashat Vayishlach, Jacob learns that his estranged brother, Esau, is approaching him with 400 soldiers. How does Jacob react to this news? The Torah tells us, “Jacob was greatly frightened and distressed” (Genesis 42:8). Rashi explains that Jacob was frightened because he thought that Esau may kill him. The last time […]
It’s Good to Be a Jew
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After Joseph reveals his true identity to his brothers, the Torah tells us that the news reached Pharaoh.  Pharaoh, as well as his servants, were pleased with the news – “Vayitav be’enei Paraoh uv’enei avadav.” Why specifically was Pharaoh pleased with the arrival of Joseph’s brothers? The Seforno suggests that as long as Joseph had […]
Who is Joseph’s Wife and Why Did He Marry Her?
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In Parashat Miketz, the Torah states that after being elevated to high office, Pharaoh gives Joseph a wife, Asenat the daughter of Poti Phara. The Rashbam (see Genesis 41:45 and Genesis 48:9) maintains that Asenat was given to Joseph in marriage as part of his elevation in status.  Joseph was given a whole slew of […]
Parshat Vayeishev
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Why did Joseph not try to get in touch with his father, Jacob, during all those years that he was in a position of prominence in Egypt? Surely, he missed his beloved father, and had the capacity to send some messengers back to Canaan to get word to Jacob. Why then the silence? A good […]