Planting Trees, Planting Hesed

Planting Trees, Planting Hesed

Oct 31, 2012 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayera

Just after the expulsion of Hagar and immediately before the binding of Isaac, a curious and somewhat cryptic episode appears in Genesis 21.

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Prolepsis: How the Bible Tells Us the Future

Prolepsis: How the Bible Tells Us the Future

Oct 31, 2012 By David Marcus | Commentary | Vayera

Regular screen watchers know that if in an opening scene the camera pans in on a detail like a dagger or a bicycle, then that detail—the dagger or the bicycle—will somehow have an important role to play later on in the movie. Known as foreshadowing, this cinematic technique has its parallel in literature in the rhetorical device known as prolepsis, which indicates a future event that is presumed to have occurred.

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A Hand to Hold

A Hand to Hold

Oct 16, 2013 By Joel Alter | Commentary | Vayera

Her beautiful 16-year-old Ishmael lying whimpering nearby from mortal thirst and her own death close at hand, Hagar—in Genesis 21:15–18—is about as pitiable as one might imagine.

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An Illustration of the Binding of Isaac From the JTS Library

An Illustration of the Binding of Isaac From the JTS Library

Nov 7, 2014 By The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Commentary | Vayera

The Hebrew Bible in which this engraved frontispiece is found was printed in Venice in 1739 at the request of a physician named Isaac Foa. In addition to the Hebrew text, it contains Italian explanations of difficult passages. The engraver, Francesco Griselini (1717–1787), illustrated many non-Jewish works as well as notable borders for megillot, and later became known for his scholarly writing on natural history.

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Ultimate Values and the Akedah Story

Ultimate Values and the Akedah Story

Oct 30, 2015 By Leonard A. Sharzer | Commentary | Vayera

Can there be anything left to say about the Akedah, perhaps the most discussed and analyzed story in the Torah? Clearly if this were simply the story of an old man who hears voices and travels to a nearby mountain with his son in order to kill him there, and who, at the last moment, sees a ram and kills it instead, we would not still be fascinated talking about the story more than two millennia later. No, this is an allegory. . . and therein lies it survival and its power, and our task is to find meaning in the story for ourselves and for our lives.

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What Did Abraham Actually Know?

What Did Abraham Actually Know?

Oct 30, 2015 By Tim Daniel Bernard | Commentary | Vayera

“But was he really as strongly convinced of such a revealed doctrine, and also of its meaning, as is required for daring to destroy a human being on its basis?”

—Immanuel Kant, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason §4, transl. George di Giovanni

What would you do if a voice told you to sacrifice your child?

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Looking Upward and Outward

Looking Upward and Outward

Nov 7, 2014 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayera

Sight and vision play an important role in the two opening narratives of Parashat Vayera. 

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Vayera

Vayera

Jan 1, 1980

1 The Lord appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot.

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Vayera

Vayera

Jan 1, 1980

1 A certain woman, the wife of one of the disciples of the prophets, cried out to Elisha: “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know how your servant revered the Lord. And now a creditor is coming to seize my two children as slaves.” 

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