Torah Portion

Vayeshev

וישב

Genesis 37:1-40:23
Amos 2:6–3:8
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Why Does the Torah Describe Babies Born Hands First?

Why Does the Torah Describe Babies Born Hands First?

Jacob is famously born with his hand grasping the ankle of his twin brother, Esau. Similarly, Zerah puts his hand out first, before being overshot by his twin brother Peretz. Does this reflect men’s ignorance of childbirth or their familiarity with other realia?[1]

Dr.
Eran Viezel
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Joseph in Custody: Enslaved or Imprisoned

Joseph in Custody: Enslaved or Imprisoned

Joseph, sold by two different groups (Midianites and Ishmaelites), seems to have been bought by two different men (Potiphar, captain of the guard, and an unnamed Egyptian man), leading to two discrete storylines, each of which place Joseph in a different position when he meets the cupbearer and the baker.

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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"Her Name Was Tamar": Invasive, Destructive, Redemptive

"Her Name Was Tamar": Invasive, Destructive, Redemptive

The character of Tamar draws on a botanical motif—the tamar, the date palm—to evoke a recurring trope of female family members whose beauty and presence have the power to destroy or save the family.

Dr.
Jacqueline Vayntrub
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The Historical and Literary Complexity of the Joseph Story

The Historical and Literary Complexity of the Joseph Story

The story of Joseph as a young man (Genesis 37-40) is full of contradictions and doublets, and is interrupted by the story of Tamar and Judah (Genesis 38). Beyond that, hovering in the background is the question: how can the spoiled youth, his father’s favorite, become the prudent leader and savior of his family?

Prof.
Athalya Brenner-Idan
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Joseph and the Dreams of Many Colors

Joseph and the Dreams of Many Colors

Understanding the practice of dream interpretation in the Joseph story by using the ANE interpretive traditions as background.

Professor
Jack M. Sasson
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Primeval Coats

Primeval Coats

Clothing, beginning with Joseph’s coat, functions both as a marker of distinction and as the source of undoing in the Joseph story. Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer adds layers of history to this coat: it is the original garments made from the sloughed skin of the serpent that God gave to Adam and Eve, which was then worn by Nimrod, Esau, and Jacob. Midrash Tanchuma claims it to be the (future) High Priest’s tunic.

Dr.
Rachel Adelman
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Tamar's Extraordinary Risk: A Narrative—not a Law—of Yibbum

Tamar's Extraordinary Risk: A Narrative—not a Law—of Yibbum

By withholding his son Shelah from Tamar, Judah sins against her. Powerless to oppose him legally, Tamar must resort to subterfuge to achieve what is justly hers, the possibility of children from her deceased’s husband’s stock.

Dr. Rabbi
Pamela Barmash
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The Resumptive Repetition (Wiederaufnahme)

The Resumptive Repetition (Wiederaufnahme)

A literary strategy used by pre-modern editors and authors that works in a similar way to the classic cinematographic catch-phrase, “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch.” (With an addendum by Prof. Marc Brettler)

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Who Was "Shelah Son of Judah" and What Happened to Him?

Who Was "Shelah Son of Judah" and What Happened to Him?

The history and geography of the Judahite clan of Shelah as portrayed in the Bible and in the extra-biblical Sources.

Prof.
Aaron Demsky
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Topics
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Genesis

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