For people who want to study Genesis through Deuteronomy but are short on time...
- Creation: Everything was here before us. Till it and tend it.
- God begins all humanity with one human being: Whether you like it or not, we are all related to each other.
- We are made in God’s image: People are born with inherent worth.
- Shabbat: Even God isn’t a workaholic.
- Adam and Eve: Once you have sex, it changes everything, and there is no going back.
- Cain and Abel: It doesn’t matter what your reason is; murder is wrong. Yes, you are your brother’s keeper.
- Tower of Babel: Build for the good of society, not for ego.
- Noah: Normal is not the same thing as right. Build your boat with God’s help. Include a window. And have faith in a dove and a rainbow.
- God calls Abraham: No one likes change except a baby in a dirty diaper, but when it’s time to move, you have to go. Be a blessing.
- Sodom and Gomorrah: Challenge authority; God wants you to ask questions. No one is above justice.
- Abraham and the almost-sacrifice of Isaac: Give your kids to God, but that doesn’t mean kill them.
- Isaac: Sometimes we just have to dig out the wells of those who came before us.
- Rebecca helps the servant: “Luck” or “divine providence” looks like initiative, hard work, and compassion.
- Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Esau: What would have happened if they had just talked to each other rather than slugged it out through their kids?
- Jacob’s ladder: First you have to dream big, then you can negotiate.
- Jacob and Laban: No job is forever. Stay when you have to stay, but leave when you have to leave.
- Jacob wrestles the angel and becomes Israel: Everyone struggles. There is blessing to just holding on. Personal transformation is possible.
- Joseph and his brothers: You don’t have to tell everyone everything. Usually you can avoid trouble by just keeping your mouth shut.
- Judah and Tamar, Joseph and Potiphar’s wife: Don’t put yourself in temptation’s way.
- Joseph and Pharaoh’s dreams: It’s not about you. Elevation comes through service.
- Joseph and his brothers: Yes, you are your brother’s keeper. (See 6.) And you don’t choose your family.
- Pharaoh orders a genocide: It didn’t happen all at once. Stop genocide before it starts, not after.
- Shifra and Pu’ah: The “little people” have power, too.
- Moses looks right and left, and sees no one: When you think, “Someone ought to do something about this,” it is probably you.
- Moses and the burning bush: Look for spiritual moments in your life and let your life be shaped by them.
- Moses and Pharaoh: Keep telling the truth to stupidity. Over and over again.
- Pharaoh: Playing God brings plagues and eventually darkness and death.
- The splitting of the sea: Don’t sit and pray when you should move. And sometimes it takes the patience of a wind blowing all night long to break through in the dawn.
- Amalek: There are evil people in the world. Just because you are not looking for trouble, sometimes trouble comes looking for you. Watch your behind.
- Standing at Sinai: You were there. You heard it. You should know better.
- The Ten Commandments: It begins with acknowledging God and ends with not coveting what is your neighbor’s.
- The Golden Calf: When the boss is away, don’t mess things up.
- Building the Tabernacle: Just as God creates and blesses, so can we create and bless.
- Sacrifices: Sacrifice is always necessary. And everyone’s sacrifice counts and can’t be measured from the outside.
- Be holy: Hold yourself to a higher standard. Holiness isn’t a sit-in-a-sanctuary-all-day thing. It’s an everyday-on-the-street-thing. Go to the sanctuary to learn and pray and then go to the street to do.
- Love your neighbor as yourself: Remember your neighbor is no longer just your fellow tribesman; it’s everyone.
- Holidays: Mark time religiously. You only get one trip and then it’s over before you know it.
- The Sabbatical and Jubilee years: You don’t own the land. The LandLord does. The land has rules. Obey them.
- Count your tribes: Where you come from and loyalty matter.
- The spies: Fear can warp your vision.
- Moses and the rock: Don’t hit when you can speak. And if you yell, you lose.
- Korah: Some people will say anything to get ahead. Don’t get sucked down with them.
- Balak: It doesn’t matter what kind of PR you hire; the truth will come out.
- Balaam and the donkey: Don’t be more of an ass than an ass.
- Pinchas: Being a zealot means that no one learns your name in Religious School.
- Joshua: You don’t have to be as talented as the person who came before you. You just have to be strong and courageous.
- One God: Praying to a single god is not the same as saying God is One. One God means we aspire to unity. It’s followed up by love.
- The commandments are not in heaven or beyond the sea: Inconvenient doesn’t mean impossible. It’s in your mouth and your heart.
- Before you is blessing and curse, life and death, so choose life: Your life is the sum of your choices. Be personally responsible. What you do next really matters.
- No one knows where Moses is buried to this day: You don’t need a monument for your life to matter. Your actions and words are your legacy.
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