Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Acharei Mos

1. Avodah of Yom Kippur
2. Commandments regarding meat

3. Forbidden relations
a. Introduction to immorality
b. Introduction to incestual relations
c. Parental ervah
d. Ervah of stepmother
e. Ervah of sister
f. Ervah of granddaughter
g. Ervah of stepsister
h. Ervah of paternal aunt
i. Ervah of maternal aunt
j. Ervah of uncle's wife
k. Ervah of daughter-in-law
l. Ervah of brother's wife
m. Other forbidden relations


1. Purification of Metzora
a. Regular purification
b. Purification of poor

2. Tzara'as of house

3. Male emissions
a. Zav
b. Ba'al Keri

4. Female emissions
a. Nidah/Zavah
b. Zavah Gedolah

Saturday, March 17, 2007


1. Childbirth
2. Tzara'at I
3. Tzara'at II
a. Sh'chin
b. Michvah

a. Hair
b. Beharos
c. Bald spot
d. Garment


a. Terumas ha-deshen
b. Minchah

2. Minchas chinuch/Chavitei kohein gadol
3. Chatas
4. Asham, general portions of kohein
5. Shelamim - todah and general; nosar, piggul, tamei
6. Cheleiv v'dam
7. Shelamim, continued

8. Y'mei ha-milu'im
a. Y'mei Moshe
b. Yom HaShmini

9. Prohibition against alcoholic avodah
10. Distribution of meat of milu'im

11. Animals
a. Kosher signs
b. Shemoneh sheratzim
c. Neveilah


1. Olah of animals
a. Cattle
b. Sheep/goats

2. Other Olos
a. Olah of birds
b. Minchas soles
c. Minchas ma'afei tanur
d. Minchas machavas
e. Minchas marcheshes
f. Minchas ha-omer

3. Shelamim of cattle
4. Shelamim of sheep
5. Shelamim of goats
6. Chatas kohein mashiach
7. (Chatas) Par he'elam davar shel tzibbur
8. Chatas ha-nasi
9. Chatas hayachid - she-goat
10. Chatas hayachid - ewe

a. (Chatas) Korban oleh v'yoreid - Animal or bird
b. (Chatas) Korban oleh v'yoreid - Minchah
c. Asham me'ilos

12. Asham talui
13. Asham g'zeilos

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ki Tisa - Vayak'heil - Pekudei

1) Census
2) Basin

3) Compoundings
a) Anointing oil
b) Incense
c) Appointment of Betzal'el

4) (Connection?)
a) Shabbos
b) Building of calf

5) Decision to destroy and reconsideration

6) Aftermath
a) Aftermath of calf
b) People's reaction

7) God agrees to send presence with nation
8) Request for Divine knowledge.
9) Second tablets: Destruction of nations, idolatry, Passover, firstborns, Sabbath, Shavu'os, Sukkos, Pilgrimage, bikkurim, meat and milk

10) (sounds chiastic to parsha 4)
a) Return from Sinai
b) Sabbath

11) Collection of materials

12) (perhaps chiastic to section 3? Why are colored curtains here instead of next section?)
a) Appointment of Betzal'el
b) Colored curtains

13) Outside
a) Goat-hair curtains
b) Boards, partition, screen

14) Ark
15) Table
16) Menorah

17) Outer keilim
a) Incense altar, oil, incense
b) Bronze altar
c) Basin
d) Courtyard
e) Accounting officials
f) Accountings

18) Eiphod
a) Eiphod
b) Avnei Shoham

19) Breastplate

20) Garments besides Choshen/Eiphod
a) Robe
b) Tunics, hat, breeches, belts
c) Headplate
d) Summary

21) Gathering

22) Set-up
a) Set-up command
b) Set-up of structure and coverings
c) Set-up of ark
d) Set-up of table
e) Set-up of Menorah
f) Set-up of incense altar
g) Set-up of screen, bronze altar
h) Set-up of basin
i) Set-up of courtyard

23) Cloud alights upon Mishkan


1) Introduction
a) Collection of materials
b) Ark - The centerpiece

2) Table

3) (connection between Menorah and curtains)
a) Menorah
b) Curtains

4) (Azarah - but why are curtains in previous parsha?)
a) Boards
b) Partition
c) Set-up with screen
d) Bronze altar
e) Courtyard
f) Lighting of Menorah
g) Holy garments

5) (Application - but perhaps lighting of Menorah and introduction to garments should be in this section?)
a) Eiphod
b) Settings and chains
c) Breastplate
d) Robe
e) Headplate, tunics, hats, belts
f) Inaugural offerings
g) Daily offering

6) Incense altar

Monday, February 12, 2007


Lots of mitzvos, lots of parshiyos

1) Interpersonal damages
a) Jewish slave
b) Jewish maid
c) Unintentional murder
d) Intentional murder
e) Patricide
f) Kidnapping
g) Cursing parents
h) Bodily damage
i) Bodily damage to a slave
j) Damage to unborn children
k) Freeing slave upon loss of limb

2) Property damages and damages to property
a) Ox goring person
b) Pit
c) Ox goring ox
d) Theft
e) Animal damaging field
f) Fire
g) Unpaid watchman
h) Paid watchman

a) Borrower/renter
b) Seduction
c) Sorcery and bestiality
d) Idolatrous sacrifice, affliction of stranger/widow/orphan

What's the common thread between these mitzvos? (a) is most similar to the concluding subsection of (2), so perhaps the parsha change is more to emphasize a distinction between the two, specifically between the two shomrim and the renter, which is very similar to the two shomrim in that it carries the same chiyuvim as one of them (see the machlokes on B"M 93a), yet is still a category of its own (e.g., sh'lichus yad is mutar). None of the other episodes of this parsha fall under the category of damages to property, though (with the exception of bestiality, perhaps), so lo n'hira. The seducer is a type of mazik (according to R' Chiyya on B"M 4a), but it's difficult to see how the sorceress, idolatrous slaughterer, or afflicter can be viewed in this light.

a) Lending money
b) Blasphemy, firstborns, torn meat
c) Judicial issues
d) Lost objects
e) Unloading an animal
f) Court favortism, killing of vindicated, oppression of stranger, Shmita, Shabbos, mention of other deities, holidays, sacrifices, bikkurim, meat and milk.

A catch-all p'suchah concluded by a catch-all s'tumah. What do blasphemy, redeeding a firstborn, and not eating t'reifos have in common?

5) Journey to the land
a) God's messenger
b) Blessing of Jews, expulsion of Canaanites

6) Reflection on the giving of the Torah
a) Prologue to giving of Torah
b) Moses' ascent to the mount

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


1) Yisro

2) Early commandments
a) Arrival at Sinai
b) Introduction to commandments
c) God and idolatry
d) God's name in vain

3) Late commandments
a) Sabbath
b) Filial honor
c) Murder
d) Adultery
e) Theft
f) False testimony
g) Coveting house
h) Coveting

4) Conclusion
a) Revelation of God
b) Epilogue

The parsha of Yisro is set off as its own section of the sedra.

Sections 2 and 3 appear to be one section that is sliced in half between the 3rd and 4th commandments. This is interesting in that it sidesteps the question of why the commandment of honoring one's parents is on the 1st tablet, ostensibly devoted to laws between man and God, by including it with the latter group, and doubly interesting in that it does the same for the commandment of Shabbos, implying that it, too, has more in common with actions against fellow men such as robbery and murder than with actions against God, such as idolatry and blasphemy. Perhaps we can posit that violation of the Shabbos can be considered a crime against oneself and against "bincha, bitecha, avd'cha, amas'cha, uv'hemtecha", rather that solely against God. (I have sometimes played with the idea that idolatry, too, is a sin against man, but the division here does not support this).

Section 4 presents the conclusion of the section describing the Giving of the Torah.

Bo - Beshalach

1) Locusts
a) Warning of locusts
b) Execution of locusts

2) Darkness

3) Preparation for the Exodus
a) Request for gold, etc.
b) Warning of final plague
c) Hardening of heart
d) Commands related to Pesach

4) Prologue to Exodus
a) Moshe repeats commands to people
b) Execution of plague, collection of gold, etc.

5) Exodus

6) Epilogue to Exodus
a) Law of Pesach
b) Exodus

7) Sanctification of firstborns, Pesach of future generations

a) Redemption of firstborn and telling of Exodus
b) Travel in desert

9) Confrontation at sea

10) Confounding in sea

11) Destruction of Egypt

12) Song at sea

13) Post-sea
a) Miriam's song
b) Marah
c) Elim and Midbar Sin
d) Manna

14) Provision of food
a) Execution of manna and quail
b) Commands of manna

15) Massah and Merivah
16) War with Amalek
17) Eternalization of war

The first parsha describes the plague of locusts.

The second describes the plague of darkness.

The third introduces the final plague and also describes the Paschal offering which will provide a merit for the Jews to escape this plague.

The fourth describes the execution of the instructions given within the third parsha, while the fifth describes the Exodus itself.

The sixth parsha sums up the section of the Paschal offering by quickly running through some laws regarding who may eat it.

The seventh introduces the holiness of the firstborn and the concept of Pesach l'doros. The eighth reiterates these ideas, specifically focusing on the concepts of redeeming the firstborn and telling over the story of the Exodus to one's children. Tefillin is tacked on to the end of each section, while the eighth continues by describing the Jews leaving Egypt and the Egyptians pursuing them.

The ninth parsha describes the two nations arriving at the Sea, the tenth describes the beginning of the punishment of the Egyptians, and the eleventh describes the decimation of the Egyptian army.

The twelfth contains the Song of the Sea.

The thirteenth starts with the Song of Miriam, which is set apart from the Song of Moses, and continues with the station-to-station drama of the Jews as they move from Marah to Elim to Midbar Sin not knowing what to expect. Finally, they are promised the manna, which represents a different type of faith in God. The manna falls in the 14th parsha, as does the quail.

The 15th describes Massah uMerivah, a different paradigm than Marah or manna.
The 16th describes the war against Amaleik, while the 17th states that the war against Amaleik has not nearly reached its conclusion.

Shemos, Vaera

1) Introduction: Yaakov's family multiplies in Egypt
2) Decrees
3) Early life of Moshe

4) God's reaction
a) God sees Jews' suffering
b) Revelation to Moshe

5) Journey back to Egypt

6) Moshe's first mission and its result
a) First meeting with Pharoah
b) Restatement of promise to take Jews out of Egypt

7) Second mission

8) Introductory interlude
a) Second command
b) Ancestry of Moshe and Aharon
c) Repetition of command

9) Aharon as Moshe's spokesman

10) First wonders performed before Pharoah
a) Sign of rod
b) Command of blood
c) Execution of blood

11) First set of plagues
a) Frogs
b) Lice
c) Arov

12) Cattle plague

13) Second set of plagues
a) Boils
b) Warning of hail

14) Execution of hail

The first parsha introduces the book by reiterating the end of the previous book. The second begins the storyline of the book by describing the antagonism of the Egyptians, while the third sets the stage for its resolution by introducing Moses.
The fourth connects the 2nd and 3rd parshiyos by describing the beginning of the resolution. In the 5th, Moshe returns to Egypt, and in the 6th, his first message to Pharaoh ends in failure.

The 7th introduces his second mission, which will ultimately succeed. The 8th is a tangent describing the lineage of Moshe and Aharon in more detail. The 9th is the immediate prologue to the climax, as Aharon is appointed as Moshe's spokesman.

The 10th describes the introductory wonders of the rod-to-serpent and water-to-blood, which mirror the wonders of the rod-to-snake and water-to-blood which HaShem showed to Moshe at the bush. Although blood is usually considered a plague of punishment rather than a mere sign, perhaps its location here indicates that at the very least it served both purposes.

The 11th connects the plagues of frogs, lice, and wild beasts (Arov) - the three plagues utilizing annoying animals. This implies that the wild beasts were not so fatal (as is also implied by their placement before apparently weaker plagues such as pestilence and boils). Locusts represented a much more serious danger, so came only later.

The 12th parsha describes only the cattle pestilence.

The 13th describes boils and the warning of hail, while the plague of hail itself did not come until the 14th parsha.


1) Going down to Egypt
a) Joseph as viceroy
b) Revelation of Joseph, Jacob comes to Egypt
c) Lineage of Jacob
d) Jacob in Egypt
2) Blessing to Ephraim and Menashe
3) Blessing to Reuven
4) Blessing to Shimon and Levi
5) Blessing to Judah
6) Blessing to Zevulun
a) Blessing to Yissachar
b) Blessing to Dan
c) Blessing to Gad
d) Blessing to Asher
e) Blessing to Naphtali
f) Blessing to Joseph
8) Blessing to Benjamin, death of Jacob

P' Miketz ends with a s'tumah and P' Vayigash ends with an additional space of a single letter, so that the first section spans from Pharoah's dreams - which led to Joseph becoming viceroy, which led to the sons of Yaakov going down to Egypt to buy grain, which led to Yaakov's entire family going down to Egypt to wait out the famine - until Yaakov makes Yoseph swear that he will bring his body back up to Canaan for burial. From the time that Yoseph rises to power in a foreign country, the section is not considered to reach a conclusion until Yaakov ensures that his body will return to Canaan, thereby providing assurance that his descendants will strive to return there also. When Yoseph is a slave or a prisoner, there is no reason to believe that an equilbrium has been reached, being that he's in Egypt against his will. However, once he's a free man and can be considered to be in a foreign country willingly, a dissonant situation is created that is not resolved until Yaakov ensures that he and his brothers will return to their homeland.

Sections 2-6 describes the blessings to Ephraim and Menashe, Reuven, Shimon and Levi, Yehudah, and Zevulun, respectively. The verses that introduce the blessings to the tribes are subsumed in the section of Reuven.

Section 7 describes the blessings to Yissachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naftali, and Yoseph. A strange assortment, to be sure. Why is Yissachar separated from Zevulun, of all tribes? And why is Yosef buried under so many other tribes (and placed last, to boot)?

Section 8 describes the blessing to Benjamin, and does not conclude until the end of the book. In this way, the book of our fathers truly ends on a note of blessing - that no matter how good the morning is, the evening can be even better.


1) Sale of Joseph
2) The challenges of Judah and Joseph
a) Judah and Tamar
b) Joseph in the house of Potiphar

3) Joseph in jail

Section 1 starts out with Yaakov as the protagonist, but Yosef quickly moves to center stage. This is reminscent of P' Toldos, which was introduced as Toldos Yitzchak, but was actually the transition parsha. Hence, perhaps Vayeishev, also, can be considered a transition, from Yaakov to his sons. If this is so, we are left with Lech Lecha and Vayeira being the parshiyos of Avraham, Chayei Sarah and Toldos being the parshiyos of the transitions from Avraham to Yitzchak and from Yitzchak to Yaakov, and Vayeitzei and Vayishlach being the parshiyos of Yaakov, the former describing his flight from Eisav and the latter describing his triumphant return to the land. This section is the only episode describing Yosef during which he is neither a slave, nor a ruler.

Section 2a begins an entirely different storyline - each of the first 6 verses introduces a new significant character - Chirah, Shua, Er, Onan, Shelah, and Tamar, none of whom play a rule anywhere else in the Chumash. Even Yehudah being the protagonist is a new phenomenon, although it may be repeated in P' Vayigash, depending on the angle that we use to view the story.

Section 2b may shed light on the insertion of Section 2a, as, while 2b uses the same protagonist, 2a uses the same setting as section 1. See my post on HaProzdor regarding how the two stories are connected.

Section 3 is the story of Yosef's aborted rise from his downfall. He again deals with dreams, which he had not done since he was a free man, but is forgotten at the end of the story, and the theme of dreams does not translate into elevation. At least not at the end of this week's sedra.


1) Early Travels in the Land
a) Encounter with Eisav and Settlement in Sukkot
b) Settlement in Shechem
c) Battle with Shechem

2) Travel to Beth-el, death of Devorah
3) Pillar of Beth-el, death of Rachel
4) Return to Yitzchak

5) Wrap-up genealogies
a) Lineage of Eisav
b) Lineage of Seir

6) Kings of Edom

Section 1 discusses two significant events, the encounter of Yaakov with his brother and the interaction between the Israelites and the city of Shechem. Appended to the end of the former episode is a note that Yaakov settled for some period of time (according to the Midrash, 18 month) immediately following in Sukkos.

What is the connection between the two events? In both cases, Yaakov's family is threatened by a hostile force. In the former, it is Eisav, who reacts to his brother returning to Canaan by appearing with a force of 400 men, while in the latter, it is Shechem, the Chivite prince, who violates the family unit by sexually abusing Yaakov's daughter, and thereby setting a precendent of Chivite lordshop over the Israelite family that must be opposed. In the former, the reaction to the threatening posture is conciliatory; in the latter, the reaction to the threatening action is belligerent. The Midrash strengthens the connection between the two, noting that it was because Yaakov hid Dinah from Eisav that she was assaulted by Shechem.

The rest of the sedra is devoted to a series of shorter episodes.

In section 2, HaShem reminds Yaakov to go to Beis El as per his vow. Once Yaakov arrives, he builds an altar. The last verse of the parsha tells of the death of the mysterious Devorah.

In section 3, HaShem changes Yaakov's name to Yisroel and promises to make him a great nation and to give him the land. Subsequently, Yaakov sets up a pillar in Beit El. The last few verses of the parsha tell of the death of Rachel. Sections 2 and 3 seem to be somewhat parallel.

Section 4 describes Yaakov returning to his father. Yitzchak is then "killed off", although chronologically he's alive until the middle of next week's sedra. The sedra in which this was done to Avraham was Chayei Sarah, the sedra we had described as being one of transition from Avraham to Yitzchak, but Yitzchak had all but left the story by the end of Toldos, so the mention of Yitzchak here is interesting, in that it does not so much mark the end of Yitzchak as a leading character, but rather the end of Yaakov as a leading character. This seems to make sense, in that Yitzchak's role is that of a transition between his father and son, and thus, Yitzchak's role can be considered to continue as long as Yaakov is still building off of the foundation passed on to him by his father.

Sections 5 and 6 also reflect this idea, in that, just as the story of Avraham could not become the story of Yitzchak until Yishmael was dealt with in a cursory manner, so, too, the story of Yitzchak could not become the story of Yaakov until Eisav was dealt with.

Section 5 tells of the family of Eisav, as well as the family of Se'ir, who is only mentioned for the sake of Eisav. Section 6 tells of the kings and chieftains that descended from Eisav.

Toldos - Vayeitzei

1) Early life of Yaakov and Eisav
2) Conflict between Yaakov and Eisav
a) Yitzchak in Gerar
b) Marriages of Eisav
c) Yitzchak's blessings
d) Yaakov in Charan

The first section covers from the birth of Yaakov and Eisav until Eisav sells his birthright to Yaakov. This latter event is therefore marked off as the defining event in the lives of the two twins, in which they officially showed signs that they had gone in different directions, one seeking to acquire the holy birthright and one willing to shed it.

The second section begins after Yaakov and Eisav have officially gone in different directions, indicating the beginning of a battle between the two. It does not conclude until the end of P' Vayeitzei, when Yaakov returns to Canaan. At the beginning of this section, he had not achieved anything save the birthright that represented a potential to be actualized. At the end, he had successfully survived the initial threat of Eisav, as well as the assaults of Lavan and, in the process, also created the foundation of the Jewish people. Although even at the end of this section, Eisav was still a threat, perhaps his simple return to the land of his murderous brother in itself can be considered a victory, and the Torah's choice of this point as a division can be therefore read as a premonition that once Yaakov was back in Canaan, he could not be defeated.

This second section can be divided into four subsections. The first is a continuation of the story of Yitzchak, describing his travails, success, and struggles in Gerar and its environs, as well as the treaty that he made there. The second is a short passage describing Eisav's further rejection of his Isaacite heritage, as he marries women whose actions are antithetical to the values of his righteous parents. The third is the episode of Yaakov acquiring his father's blessings to go with the birthright and the fourth is the entirety of P' Vayeitzei, describing Yaakov's departure from and return to the land.

Vayeitzei is clearly within the story of Yaakov, but what of P' Toldos? It seems to zig-zag back and forth between the stories of Yitzchak and Yaakov, while also keeping tabs on Eisav. Perhaps it can be considered a transition parsha between Yitzchak and Yaakov, much as Chayei Sarah was a transition parsha between Avraham and Yitzchak that followed the two parshiyos devoted to Avraham alone. The stories of Yaakov in Toldos are entirely about his moves to become the successor to his father; those of the first section of the parsha represent potential, which the story in the second section shows the actualization of this potential, as Yitzchak gives him the blessing earmarked for the firstborn. The other primary theme of this parsha is Yitzchak's following in his father's footsteps in and maintaining a status quo for Yaakov to take over eventually. The contribution of the passive Yitzchak to our history is not in innovation, but rather in continuation, and the parshiyos devoted to the middle father reflect this idea. The small sections describing Eisav illustrate his travels in the opposite direction from that taken by Yaakov, providing a further background for this transition.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Chayei Sarah

1) Sarah's death and Yitzchak's marriage to Rivka.
a) Purchase of Cave of Machpeilah.
b) Yitzchak's marriage.

2) The end of Avraham's life
3) Generations of Yishma'el.

Section one is comprised of two separate subsections that comprise one unit, as the last verse in the section, 24:67, explains how Rivka took the place of Sarah. In the beginning of the section, despite Avraham's advanced age, he is still the primary mover in the story of Bereishis, while by the end, it is Yitzchak who has taken the reins, as the servant does not report back to Avraham, but rather to Yitzchak (v. 66).

Section two describes Avraham's "post-retirement" life, while section three is a "wrap-up" section that concluded the role of Yishma'el, and completes the transfer of the Abrahamic heritage to Yitzchak.

In this sense, Chayei Sarah can be viewed as the story of a transition between Avraham and his true heir, Yitzchak.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


1) Birth of Yitzchak.
a) Tidings of birth and destruction of S'dom.
b) Incident in Gerar.
c) Birth of Yitzchak.

2) Treaty with Avimelech and Pichol.
3) The Binding of Isaac.
4) The descendants of Nachor.

Section 1 begins with Sarah being told of the birth of Yitzchak - the first time this was made known to anyone besides Avraham, which perhaps in some way gave it a greater reality - and ends with the expulsion of Yishma'el that was a result of his interactions with Yitzchak, thereby implying that the entry of Yitzchak into the story is the primary topic being discussed. It must be examined, though, why the incidents of Sodom, Lot and his daughters, and Hagar and Yishmael in the wilderness are included in this section.

Section 2 is a short parsha that discusses only one episode. Its placement is somewhat curious, though. What happened between the first encounter between Avraham and Avimelech and now that led Avimelech to exclaim that God was with Avraham in all that he did? It could be the fact that Avimelech saw that he was healed from his illness upon the prayer of Avraham (perhaps Avraham did not pray until he and Sarah were out of the capital city) or perhaps the miraculous birth of Yitzchak, but in either of these cases, why did Avimelech wait so long (at least two years, perhaps more) before coming to Avraham? This episode immediately follows the explusion of Yishma'el and Hagar, but what effect would that have on Avimelech's international politics?

Section 3 is a climax to the development of Yitzchak into Avraham's heir, but section 4 is something of an anticlimax. I would say this is akin to the other lineage parshiyos in this book that are used to seal up the loose ends of one generation before focusing on one specific lineage within this generation, much as is done by Yishma'el opposite Yitzchak and Eisav opposite Ya'akov, but this parsha is different in that it is specifically stated from Avraham's viewpoint. Bereishis Rabbah at the end of this week's parsha, based on the singling out of Rivkah from all of the other grandchildren of Nachor, says that the purpose of the parsha is to foreshadow the upcoming marriage of Yitzchak, which would seem to answer the question of the unique nature of this section.

This latter point would appear to indicate a possible dividing line between the story of Avraham and the story of Yitzchak at the end of this sedra. Thus, if P' Lech Lecha is the story of Avraham and his failed heirs, Vayeira is the story of Avraham and his true heir; Chayei Sarah, for that matter, would be the story of the transition between Avraham and his heir, an idea that I will examine next week.