This week we look at one of the strangest stories in the whole Torah. God is out to kill someone. And a makeshift circumcision is the only thing that will stop Him.
Some people believe the Bible has hidden codes that we can use to predict the future. That might sound crazy to you, but here's an even stranger idea: Could it be that the characters in the Torah, themselves, were looking for secret codes in the Torah?! This week we look at a tradition that makes that surprising claim.
How does the heart respond to shocking news - good or bad? This week we see Jacob completely overwhelmed, on the verge of death, and then suddenly okay again. What happened to him in that moment, and how did he recover?
There's a lot of crying in the Torah. But no one cries more than Joseph. What is it that has him weeping so often? We attempt a psychological study of the man - with the help of some of the great commentators.
This week, for anyone who's been wondering what the heck this podcast is all about, we take the opportunity to give a general introduction to the whole genre of "parshanut."
What would you say is the most important line in the Torah? Now what about the least important line? Well, Maimonides says that there is no difference - every verse in the Torah is equally important. But what does he mean by that? We'll try to find out by taking a line that seems at first to be a throwaway, and digging deeper to find the hidden story behind it.
There's some wild, far-out stuff in the Torah. But this week, things get especially crazy when we run into a bunch of... talking rocks! Now, are we really supposed to believe this stuff? That's the big question we try to tackle this week, with some help from a great 16th-century philosopher, Rabbi Yehuda Loew of Prague.
This week, we reexamine a famous piece of midrash - a story of angels crying - in search of a better understanding of what drives Isaac, the most silent and mysterious of our forefathers.
There is a principle in rabbinic interpretation my friend calls "The Economy of Characters," which takes two separate figures in the Torah and folds them into one. This week, we look at how this works in one story in our parsha, the marriage of Abraham, in his old-age, to a woman (seemingly) named "Keturah.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is horrifying for all kinds of reasons. But the worst of it is what Lot does to his daughters. Why does he do it? Where did he get the idea?
The answer may surprise you.
How can the Egyptians be held responsible for forcing the Israelites into slavery if God set this all in motion hundreds of years earlier? Two great Medieval rabbis debate this question, and their answers give us two very different ways of thinking about history - and participating in it.
This week we look at the story of the Tower of Babel, and ask what it's doing here between the Noah narrative and the introduction to Abraham. We find some surprising interpretations of the project, and some surprising characters in the crowd of builders.