Kevah: ParshaNut

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NOT OF MEN - Parshat Yitro

Posted by David Kasher on 16 February 2017 | Comments

An astonishing thing happened on Mount Sinai.

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PAYING ATTENTION - Parshat Beshalach

Posted by David Kasher on 9 February 2017 | Comments

History is a funny thing. We tend to think of it as a record of past events. But it isn’t that, exactly (though it may attempt to be). History is, instead, more like the way we talk about the past. It is our attempt to recollect and reconstruct what happened, and to put it into words. And sometimes, we get it wrong.

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A STRANGER NATION - Parshat Bo

Posted by David Kasher on 2 February 2017 | Comments

This week, a new nation is being formed.

If the Ten Commandments, delivered at Mount Sinai, serve as a kind of Constitution for the people of Israel, then Parshat Bo contains its Declaration of Independence, in the opening words of Chapter 12: “This month will mark for you the beginning…” A new calendar, a new set of rules, and a new holiday to commemorate the birth of this new nation.

So this is a good moment to ask the question: who’s in, and who’s out? What constitutes membership in the nation of Israel, and who will be counted as a citizen in this new polity?

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WHAT A PHARAOH WANTS - Parshat Va'eira

Posted by David Kasher on 26 January 2017 | Comments

“Let My people go.”

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A NEW KING - Parshat Shemot

Posted by David Kasher on 19 January 2017 | Comments

This week, all watchful eyes are fixed on one verse:

A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. (Exodus 1:10)

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THE SCEPTER & THE STAFF - Parshat Vayechi

Posted by David Kasher on 12 January 2017 | Comments

Should our leaders be wise?

It seems like too simple a question, easy to answer. Of course! We want our leaders to be wise, and to govern with wisdom. Why would we not? Who would want a foolish king?

But if we rephrase the question slightly, and ask instead: Should our leaders be intellectuals? That is, should they be defined especially by their intelligence, as opposed to some other quality - charisma, strength, or intuition, for example? Well, then the answer does not come so quickly.

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THE WOMAN BETWEEN THE WALLS - Parshat Vayigash

Posted by David Kasher on 5 January 2017 | Comments

These rabbis, they don’t miss a thing.

The verse says:

These were the sons whom Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, along with Dinah his daughter, and all of his grandsons and granddaughters, thirty-three souls. (Gen. 46:15)

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PARSHANUT: Mourning Moses - Parshat V'zot HaBracha

Posted by David Kasher on 20 October 2016 | Comments

Click for a PDF Version.

When Moses died, yes, we wept for him. Of course we did. But not… shall we say… excessively.

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PARSHANUT: This Very Day - Parshat Ha'azinu

Posted by David Kasher on 14 October 2016 | Comments

Click for a PDF Version.

It’s the classic Midrashic move. The rabbis begin with a distinct phrase that appears in one place the Torah. They go find every other appearance in the Torah of the same phrase. And then they suggest that the recurring language indicates a thematic connection between what you thought were very different narratives.

At the end of Parshat Ha’azinu, we get a perfect demonstration of how this works. Moses has delivered his last great oratory and it is time, God says, for him to die. In fact, the announcement comes just as Moses finishes speaking:

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PARSHANUT: The Hidden Face - Parshat Vayeilech

Posted by David Kasher on 6 October 2016 | Comments

Click for a PDF Version.

The passing of Elie Wiesel this summer prompted us to speak once again of the hiddenness of God.

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