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Genesis

Lech Lecha (Go Forth) – Genesis 12:1 – 17:27

So begins this week’s Torah reading. And what a reading it is. If there was ever a “Zionist” Torah reading it’s this one. And each year, we are reminded that G-d chose Abraham out of all the people of the earth, and made him the father of our nation and the recipient of G-d’s promises for the Jewish people.

Noach (Noah) Genesis 6:9 – 11:32

This week, we read the story of Noah and the flood. “And these are the descendants of Noah, Noah was a righteous man, innocent he was in his generations.” (Genesis 6:9) Many commentators have questioned the use of the word generations – why the plural and why the addition of the word at all?

Bereisheet (In the Beginning) Genesis 1:1 – 6:8

We begin the cycle again. Last weekend we celebrated Simchat Torah and read the final chapters of Deuteronomy with special ceremony. We then proceeded to read the first chapter of Genesis, as a way of saying that the Torah never ends, but every ending includes with it a new beginning.

Vayechi (And He [Jacob] Lived) – Genesis 47:28 – 50:26

This week we read the final chapters of Genesis. Jacob is approaching the end of his life. We are told that he lived until the age of 147 and that he spent the last 17 years of his life in Egypt. Just before his death, he blesses his grandchildren, Ephraim and Menashe, and then blesses each of his sons.

VaYigash (And He (Judah) Approached) – Genesis 44:18 – 47:27

This week’s portion begins with the most dramatic speech in the Bible — Judah’s plea to Joseph to save his brother Benjamin. “And Joseph could not restrain himself before all that stood by him . . . And he wept aloud . . . And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph, is my father still alive?'” (Genesis 45:1-3).

Miketz (The End) – Genesis 41:1 – 44:17

In this week’s Torah portion, we continue the story of Joseph in Egypt. The portion begins with Joseph’s rise to power, thanks to his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream. He is given full responsibility for feeding the nation and, indeed surrounding nations, during the upcoming famine.

Vayishlach (And He (Jacob) Sent) – Genesis 32:4 – 36:43

This week’s Torah portion begins with Jacob’s preparation for his confrontation with Esau. He has just returned from years in the home of his uncle Laban, he has four wives and 12 children, a great deal of sheep and other animals, but he remains concerned as to whether Esau is still intent on killing him.

Toldot (Descendants) – Genesis 25:19 – 28:9

With this week’s Torah reading, we move on to the life of Isaac, the second patriarch of the Jewish people. The portion begins in Chapter 25 verse 19 and continues through Chapter 28 verse 9. Indeed, it is the only Torah reading that deals with Isaac as an independent adult.