Chayei Sarah 5781-2020

“The Personality of Isaac: The Passive Patriarch”
(updated and revised from Chayei Sarah 5761–2000)

Much of the life of Isaac appears to reflect his seemingly passive nature. Yet, it is apparently through his passivity that he achieves greatness. It is Isaac, the "passive patriarch," who takes hold of the land of Israel, probably because he, as opposed to Abraham and Jacob, never left the land. He toiled on the land, worked the land, plowed the land and harvested the land. Through his quiet perseverance, Isaac achieved more than many others accomplish with much noise and bravado.

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Vayeira 5781-2020

“Mount Moriah: Building for the Future through Love”
(updated and revised from Vayeira 2000-5761)

The place where G-d tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is known as Mount Moriah. This place, located in the heart of Jerusalem, is where the Temple was eventually built. The well-known legend maintains that G-d selected Mount Moriah as the place for Jewish worship because of the selfless brotherly love and devotion that was practiced there. If we are to re-acquire Mount Moriah, it can only be accomplished through the practice of true fraternity and sincere, selfless love.

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Chayei Sarah 5780-2019

“Rebecca and Isaac’s First Encounter: a Revealing Insight into the Future”
(updated and revised from Chayei Sarah 5760-1999)

When Rebecca raises her eyes and first beholds Isaac from afar, she falls off the camel and promptly covers her face with a veil. Rebecca’s actions may very well reflect her feelings of inadequacy about coming from a decadent and idolatrous background, and being betrothed to an intensely spiritual man. This encounter may explain the fraught relationship that the future couple will have.

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Vayeira 5780-2019

"The Preciousness of Hospitality"
(Updated and Revised from Vayeira 5760-1999)

While 99-year-old Abraham is recovering from his recent circumcision, he sees potential guests on the horizon. Despite his pain, he quickly runs toward the wayfarers and begs them not to pass by his tent without accepting his hospitality. There is much we can learn from Abraham’s manner of welcoming guests. It is essential that we not lose the capacity to properly perform the noble and ennobling mitzvah of “Hachnassat Orchim.”

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Lech Lecha 5780-2019

“Understanding the Ritual of Circumcision”
(updated and revised from Lech Lecha 5760-1999)

The ritual of circumcision, performed on the eighth day on the flesh of the Jewish male, has always been the fundamental mark of identity for the Jewish man. There are those who say that the letting of blood during the circumcision is a constant reminder that the Jewish people must live by their blood. It may also mean that whether the Jewish people live or die will be determined by the organ that is circumcised. After all, Jewish destiny depends upon how the Jewish males choose to use their sexual organ.

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Kee Tavo 5779-2019

“Welcoming the Stranger”
(Revised and updated from Kee Tavo 5760-2000)

May a non-Jew who converts to Judaism say the prayer formula stating that G-d has promised “our fathers” to give us the land and the fruits thereof? We are taught that Abraham is the father of not only biological Jews, but of all righteous proselytes. We therefore must welcome the גֵר--ger, the stranger, with abundant love, for we were all once strangers.

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Kee Tavo 5778-2018

“A Wandering Aramean?”

In the beautiful declaration that plays a prominent role in the Bikkurim ceremony, there is an ambiguous reference to “a Wandering Aramean.”

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Chayei Sarah 5778-2017

“Who is Eliezer the Damascan?”

Eliezer, the Damascan slave of Abraham, plays a key role in determining the destiny of Abraham’s progeny. His actions resonate to this very day.

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Vayeira 5778-2017

“The Alliance with Abimelech”

The alliance that Abraham made in ancient times with Abimelech, King of Gerar, reverberates profoundly throughout Jewish history and in modern times as well.

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Chayei Sarah 5777-2016

“Sarah Dies at Age 127”
The Matriarch Sarah lived 127 years of righteous life, which served as a model of righteousness for many generations of Jews.

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Vayeira 5777-2016

“There is But No Fear of G-d in this Place”

What did Abraham mean when he concluded that Gerar was a city that possessed no fear of G-d?

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Chayei Sarah 5776-2015

“The Legacy of Ishmael”

The tendency of the descendants of Jacob to diminish the “specialness” of the children of Ishmael may be understandable, especially in light of the painful contemporary events. Nevertheless, upon examining the Biblical sources, it is impossible to deny the special qualities and endowments of the children of Ishmael.

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Vayeira 5776-2015

“The Trials of Abraham”

According to the Mishnah in Avot, Abraham faced ten trials in his life. It was Abraham’s preparedness to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, through which Abraham succeeded in cleansing himself and the world from the primordial sin of the Garden of Eden.

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Noah 5776-2015

"Noah - A Hero of Limited Proportions"

In contrast to Abraham’s bold vision and all-encompassing perspectives, Noah is seen as a man of extremely limited vision.

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Toledot 5775-2014

“Good Families Bad Children, Bad Families Good Children”

Although Esau and Jacob were twin sons born to Isaac and Rebecca, each one developed very differently and chose a very different lifestyle from the other.

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Chayei Sarah 5775-2014

“Are Marriages Made in Heaven?”

When Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, asks Laban and Bethuel, Rebecca's brother and father, whether they will allow Rebecca to return to Canaan to marry Abraham's son, they reply: "The matter stemmed from the L-rd! We can say to you, neither bad nor good." Are marriages made in heaven?

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Matot 5774-2014

Hakarat HaTov: Expressing Appreciation”

It is important to express gratitude for all the myriad kindnesses that are bestowed upon us. It is a lesson that Moses apparently learned well.

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Kee Tisah 5774-2014

“Moses Argues with G-d to Save the Jewish People from Destruction”

Moses’ argument with G-d to forgive the people for the sin of the Golden Calf serves as a paradigm for future petitions of the Al-mighty to forgive the sins of His people.

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Chayei Sarah 5774-2013

"Yitzchak Establishes a Home with His New Wife"

The betrothal of Isaac and Rebecca can serve as a most valuable case study for finding a mate and establishing a successful home environment.

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Lech Lecha 5774-2013

“Setting the Stage for the Jewish Future”

Our sages say that the deeds of the forefathers are signposts for the children. The story of Abraham and Sarah are truly predictive of both future Jewish history and contemporary Jewish life.

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Bereshith 5774-2013

"Beginning at the Beginning–-Again"

While some may argue that the Torah’s primary purpose is to report the history and development of the Jewish people, tradition argues that its primary function is to record and confirm the establishment of the covenant between G-d, the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

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Toledot 5773-2012

"The Sale of the Birthright"

What really took place at the sale of the birthright? The Midrash fills in the many edifying details.

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