A Brief Note on Two Sides of One Coin – Parsha BeShalach

Parsha BeShalach completes the narrative cycle that began with God’s prophecy to Abraham of the Egyptian Exile, the longest and most complex story arc in the Torah. As recorded in Parsha Lech Lecha: “Know with certainty that your offspring shall be sojourners in a land not their own they will enslave them, and they will oppress them four hundred years. And also the nation that will enslave, I shall judge…”.   Continue reading

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A Brief Note on the Exodus – Parsha Bo

The study of the Torah usually involves developing an understanding of the text and how the various incidents and laws have been interpreted by generations of Torah scholars, usually beginning with the commentaries of Rashi, Rambam, Ramban and Ibn Ezra. This week’s reading, Parsha Bo, provides a unique opportunity to understand the entirety of the Torah and its affect and effect, on parochial, Universalist and secular societies. Yitzeath Mitzrayim, the Exodus, has become the most storied event in Jewish history and is one of the most formative occurrences impacting on western Civilization It has been adopted by a variety of national liberation movements in the past and until today.  Continue reading

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A Brief Note on First Impressions – Parsha Va’era

Parsha Va’era records the beginnings of God’s move into man’s historical consciousness. God, whilst creator of the universe and all that resided within, had until this point kept a low profile; he had  only communicated with Adam and Eve and with their son Cain, and, then with Noah. Similarly, he had appeared only to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and remained hidden from the inhabitants of the world. Now, God would unabashedly reveal Himself, and make His appearance at the centre of contemporary civilization – Egypt. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on an Enigma Answered – Parsha Shemot

Parsha Shemot bridges the lives of the Patriarchs and those of their descendents, the Children of Israel. More importantly, it describes the fulfilment of God’s ominous promise to Abraham: “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance”. It is set at a time approximately 210 years after Jacob and his family had taken refuge and then settled in Egypt. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on Dramatic Foreshadowing – Parsha Vayechi

Parsha Vayechi concludes the saga of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The journey which had begun in what is now northern Iraq came to a conclusion near the Nile Delta. The focus of the Parsha is on the last days of Jacob, his challenging testament to his children, his death and subsequent burial in Hebron at the family tomb in the Cave of Machpela. The Torah describes Continue reading

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A Brief Note on The Saga of Joseph, Part One – Parsha Vayeshev

Parsha VaYeshev records the beginning of the chronicles of Joseph, the longest single narrative of Bereshit. While the account appears simplistic, it’s difficult to understand the tenor of the story, because there is no real message that’s imparted. It follows the tone that was set earlier on in the narratives about Jacob, and too is much like a Shakespearean Comedy. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on a Change in Perspective – Parsha VaYishlach

The narratives recorded in Parsha VaYishlach expand on the life of Jacob after he fled from Laban. As he started the final leg of a long journey through often hostile terrain, he became pre-occupied by the thought of meeting his brother Esau. He was unsure whether, in the about thirty-five years that had passed since he had escaped his brother’s wrath, Esau’s anger had dissipated. He was anxious. He was fearful. He assumed the worst. Continue reading

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A Brief Note on Romance, Ruses and Revenge – Parsha Vayetzei

Parsha Vayetzei is the most colourful narrative of the Torah. To the naked eye it presents as a sophisticated farce equal to the any of the Shakespearean Comedies, containing the mainstay elements of love, deception and retribution Continue reading

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A Brief Note on Consequences, Anticipated and Not – Parsha Chayei Sarah

The opening narrative of this week’s Torah reading, Parsha Chaye Sarah records the events that followed on the near sacrifice of Isaac by his father, the Akedah Yitzhak. First, we are told of the death of Sarah who passed away at the ripe old age of one hundred and twenty-seven years. She appears to have died alone, seemingly estranged from her husband Abraham and her son Isaac. At the time of her demise she was in Kiryat Arba; Abraham and Isaac were in Beersheba. Interestingly, the text suggests that Isaac too was living apart from Abraham at the time, a possible indicator of some strife between son and father.  Continue reading

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A Brief Note on a Holocaust – Parsha Vayeira

It is fair to say that one of the most renowned of the Torah’s narratives is the almost sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, the Akedah, which is recorded at the conclusion of this week’s Torah reading, Parsha VaYera. Briefly, Sarah is at last blessed with a child; a son named Isaac. Isaac will become Abraham’s heir and the beneficiary of the Covenant God had made with his father. About thirty seven years after his birth, God commanded Abraham: “Please take your son, your only one whom you love – Isaac” to the land of Moriah, an area identified with Jerusalem, and there sacrifice him as a burnt offering, an Olah. Pointedly, Abraham did not try to dissuade God, rather he responded in a fairly matter of fact fashion: “And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he cleaved the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” Continue reading

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