"And they said, should they make our sister like a harlot?" (Breisheet 34:31). So ends round one of the debate between Yaakov on one side, and Shimon and Levi on the other, over the killing of the people of Shechem for the rape of Dinah. The Torah moves on to record Yaakov's return to Beit El as the family enters a new phase in their travels. It is on Yaakov's deathbed that we hear his response: "Shimon and Levi, the tools of violence are in their hands...in their anger they killed men" (Breisheet 49:5-6).
Etiquette and diplomatic niceties are the hallmarks of the world of politics. Political leaders are trained to speak ambiguously and in a way that can allow for future re-interpretation (misinterpretation?) as the need arises. It is only in private, and even then quite rarely, that diplomats may express themselves with candour and frankness.
It is hard to imagine a more disparate couple than Yitzchak and Rivka, the quiet contemplative husband who would "meditate in the fields" (24:63), and the worldly, independent-thinking wife who “ran again to the well” (Breisheet 20:24). Yitzchak spent his entire life in the land of Israel, never traveling the world. He was, as our Sages describe him, "a pure offering", ready to sacrifice himself to G-d. He could see no evil in others, and thus could be easily fooled by both Eisav and Yaakov.
"Vayigdal Haish, and the man grew up and grew more and more, until he became very big" (Breisheet 26:13). At first glance, this is a very strange verse. The Torah has just described Yitzchak's and Rivka's move to Gerrar (Yitzchak's place of birth) and the great wealth he acquired there. This move occurred after Eisav's sale of the birthright to Yaakov--an event that happened many years after the Torah, using the same terminology, tells us "vayigdelu hane'arim, and the young men grew up" (25:27).
Sefer Breisheet begins with the grandeur of creation, detailing the many new life forms, and with great hope for the human race. This hope was to be short-lived, with story after story of man's pettiness and propensity for evil. By the end of the book, the theme is that of death, and the stage is set for the enslavement of the Jewish people.
"If you really want to do me a kindness... act towards me with truth and kindness and do not bury me in Egypt" (47:29). So begins Yaakov's exhortation to Yosef as he realizes that the end is near. Though Yosef promised to carry out his father's request, Yaakov was not yet satisfied and demanded that Yosef take an oath that he would do as Yaakov asked.
One of the central motifs of the biblical narrative is food. Matzah, manna, mei merivah highlight the crucial role of food in shaping the course of Jewish history. The entire course of human destiny was changed due to Adam and Eve’s eating from the eitz hada'at.