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Posts by David Ackerman

Parashat B’shalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16)

“You put out Your right hand/The earth swallowed them.” (Exodus 15:12) Parashat B’shalach describes the parting of the Reed Sea, the Israelites’ escape, and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army (not to mention the manna from heaven). It is all about God’s might and God’s miracles. But hidden in plain sight is a powerful lesson about … Continued

Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)

“Now the Lord had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not heed you, in order that My marvels may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 11:9) A short exchange between Pharaoh and Moses in Parashat Bo offers a profound vision of Jewish communal life. When Moses warns Pharaoh locusts will descend upon Egypt (plague … Continued

Parashat Va’era (Exodus 6:2-9:35)

“Pharaoh’s heart remained stubborn and he did not hearken to them, just as God had spoken.” (Exodus 7:13) Parashat Va’era begins an epic battle of wills between God and Pharaoh. First, though, God reassures Moses of the outcome: “…I will bring you out from under Egypt’s burden, I will save you from their bondage, I … Continued

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

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