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Posts by Yael Warach

Parashat Sh’mot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)

“Now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me; moreover, I have seen how the Egyptians oppress them.” (Exodus 3:9) Parashat Sh’mot opens Exodus, the second book of the Torah. It introduces Moses, one of the Torah’s central characters. Sh’mot also introduces God in a new way, with great implications for Jewish theology and thought. … Continued

Parashat Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

“Jacob said to Joseph, “El Shaddai appeared to me in Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me.” (Genesis 48: 3) Parashat Vayechi is the last parasha, or portion, in the book of Genesis. It describes the end of the patriarchal era: Jacob gathers together and blesses all his sons and dies. First, though, … Continued

Parashat Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

“Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now I can die, after my having seen your face, because you are still alive.’” (Genesis 46:30) Parashat Vayigash contains the denouement to the Joseph saga: Joseph reveals himself to his brothers; they reconcile and return to Canaan to bring Jacob and the rest of the family down to Egypt. … Continued

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

“The earth produced during the seven years of abundance by the handfuls.” (Genesis 41:47) Names play a subtle, but significant role in Parashat Miketz. When Pharaoh appoints Joseph his second-in-command over all of Egypt, Pharaoh gives him an Egyptian wife and an Egyptian name: Tsaf’nat Panei-ach (Gen. 41:45). Now Joseph has two names, reflecting his … Continued

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

“God was with Joseph and turned toward him with loving-kindness; He caused him to find favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” (Genesis 39:21) Parashat Vayeshev introduces the Joseph saga, the longest sustained narrative in the Torah. It invites many questions. But Dr. Barry Holtz (Baumwritter Professor of Jewish Education at Jewish Theological Seminary) … Continued

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

“I am unworthy of all the kindnesses and truth You have done Your servant: for with my staff I crossed this Jordan and now I have become two camps.” (Genesis 32:11) Parashat Vahishlach presents a series of confrontations: Jacob’s nighttime wrestling match with the mysterious stranger (Gen. 32:25-30), Jacob’s reunion with his brother Esau after … Continued

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

“But Jacob had gone on his way, and the angels of God met him.” (Genesis 32:2) Parashat Vayetzei begins with Jacob’s escape from his brother Esau and ends 20+ years later with his escape from his uncle Lavan. Each journey is marked by a dream. Pinchas Peli (1930-1989; Israeli rabbi, essayist, poet, and scholar of … Continued

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

“When the lads grew up, Esau was a man who understood hunting, a man of the field, and Jacob was a single-minded man, living in tents.” (Genesis 25:27) Parashat Toldot introduces Esau and Jacob, twin brothers whose rivalry begins in the womb (Gen. 25:22) and haunts them into adulthood. It also introduces a new genre … Continued

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

“And Isaac went out to commune in the fields toward evening and looking up, he saw camels approaching. (Genesis 24:63) Parashat Chayei Sarah anticipates the lived experience of the Jewish people throughout most of its history in two small words. When Sarah dies, Abraham approaches the local community to purchase a burial plot for her. … Continued

Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24)

“But God had said: “Should I keep from Abraham that which I am doing?” (Genesis 18:17) Parashat Vayeira includes some of the Torah’s most famous scenes: Abraham welcoming strangers into his tent; God destroying Sodom and Gemorah; the Binding of Isaac. Because these stories are so well- known individually, it is easy to overlook the … Continued