parshat hashavua

Va'era: Searching for G-d?

"G-d spoke to Moshe, and said to him, 'I am the Lord. I revealed myself to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as G-d Almighty, but My name YHVH I did not allow them to know'" (Shemot 6:2). While the exact meaning of this verse is not easily understood--after all, the name YHVH is used often in sefer Breisheet--what is most clear is that G-d was about to reveal himself in a manner that was hitherto unknown.

Shemot: The Names Are the Same

"And these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt". The above verse serves as the opening to the second book of the Torah, setting the background to Jewish life in Egypt. One would also be correct in stating that the above verse is taken from parshat Vayigash, listing those who came to Egypt. In other words, the opening of verse of Shemot appears most redundant, adding no new information to the story of the Jewish people.

Parshat Vayetze: Listen to Your Mother

The Torah tells us nothing about the upbringing of Abraham; we do not even know the name of his mother. All we know about him is that he was the oldest of Terach’s three children, married to Sarai who was barren, and his father--absent a command from G-d--started on a journey to the land of Canaan.

We know precious little about Yitzchak’s upbringing, save for the fact that his mother was fearful of the influence of Yishamel upon him and that he willingly accompanied his father to the Akeidah.

Noach: It's the Small Stuff

Much of Parshat Breisheet details the moral failings of many of the individuals whom we meet: Adam and Chava, Kayin, Lemech. These early failures were those of individuals. As society developed, we no longer read of individual failings but of general corruption. The ramifications of such are much greater. "The world was corrupt before G-d and the world was full of hamas, theft" (Breisheet 6:11). Apart from Noach and his family, we meet no individuals from the generation of the flood (and even with Noach, we meet only men).

Shoftim: To Tell the Truth

"Tzedek tzedek tirdof, justice, justice you shall pursue in order that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your G-d is giving you" (Devarim 17:20). Perhaps the most important ingredient for a functioning society is an honest, impartial, and fearless justice system. Without justice, anarchy reigns and society crumbles. The inability of the courts to deal with the many injustices in the early part of the first century CE was the precursor to destruction and the exile of the Jewish people.


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