Parashat Miketz (Genesis 41:1 – 44:17)

“Pharoah said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharoah; yet without you, no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.’” (Genesis 41:44) Parashat Miketz is the original Saturday-afternoon-matinee-action-thriller with lots of cliffhangers. Joseph rises from the prison to the palace. The famine he predicts drives his brothers down to Egypt to […]

Parashat Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23)

“Now Jacob was settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan.” (Genesis 37:1) Why is there is so much bad behavior between relatives in the book of Genesis? Daniel Elazar (1934-1999; a leading political scientist and specialist in the study of the Jewish political tradition) explains: the Torah is a […]

Parashat Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43)

“Please accept my present, which has been brought to you, for God has favored me and I have plenty. And when he urged him, he accepted.” (Genesis 33:11) Parashat Vayishlach is a nail-biter. Jacob returns home to Canaan and encounters his brother Esau. Jacob is nervous, with good reason; he stole Esau’s blessing twenty years […]

Parashat Vayeitzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3)

“And if I return safe to my father’s house—the Lord shall be my God.” (Genesis 28:21) Parashat Vayetzei describes Jacob’s flight from Canaan to his uncle Lavan in Haran. Following his epiphany at Beth El (the dream scene with the ladder and angels) he enters a situation new for him, but familiar to us, and […]

Parashat Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:8)

“When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb.” (Genesis 25:24) Parashat Toldot tells a familiar tale of familial conflict. Rebecca gives birth to Esau and Jacob, boys with very different personalities. Isaac favors Esau; Rebecca prefers Jacob. The sibling rivalry comes to a climax when Jacob, at Rebecca’s […]

Parashat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

“And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac.” (Genesis 25:5) Parashat Chayei Sarah declares “And Abraham was old, and come into days, and God blessed Abraham bakol, in all.” (Gen. 24:1) It’s a little surprising to read because the first Jewish family is a mess: Isaac and Abraham have not spoken since returning from […]

Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-24)

“…Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Genesis 18:25) Parashat Vayera tells the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and introduces an important concept in Jewish thought: z’chut, or merit. Abraham distinguishes himself from Noah by challenging God’s plan and holding God accountable to a moral code. Abraham advocates for […]

Parashat Lekh Lekha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)

“I will establish my covenant between me and you and I will make you exceedingly numerous.” (Genesis 17:2) Parashat Lekh Lekha opens a new era in history. God recognizes partnering with all of humanity (through Noah) to steward the world has failed. God tries a new strategy: electing one family (which will grow into a […]

Parashat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall enter the ark; you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” (Gen 6:18) Noah, famous for building an ark to save humanity, is a tzaddik, a righteous person. We know because the Torah says so (Gen. 6:9). In fact, Noah is […]

Parshat B’reishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

“The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.’” (Genesis 2:18) On Simchat Torah we read V’zot Habracha, the closing parasha, or portion, of the Torah and then return to B’reishit, the opening parasha, immediately. B’reishit describes the origins of the world: the […]

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