Vayishlach 5782-2021

“Yisrael: The People Who Wrestle with G-d”
(updated and revised from Vayishlach 5762-2001)

As the natural, charismatic leader, Judah's brothers abide by his suggestion to sell Joseph rather than kill him. But now that father Jacob is inconsolable, the brothers blame Judah for their father's misery. Judah has a falling out with his brothers and departs from his household ostensibly renouncing his family connections. He marries a local woman, has three sons, two of whom die after they are married to Tamar. Unknowingly, Judah has a sexual relationship with his daughter-in-law Tamar who becomes pregnant. After sentencing Tamar to death by burning, Judah, rises to the occasion, admits his guilt and spares Tamar's life. Judah thus becomes the first Ba'al Teshuvah (penitent) and emerges as the leader of Israel.

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Chukat 5772-2012

"It is a Decree Before Me–-You Have No Right to Question It!"

The Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer, is one of the most enigmatic laws of the Torah. Rashi declares that the law of the Red Heifer is a decree that mortals have no right to question. Rashi then proceeds to try to explain the enigma.

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0 Comments8 Minutes

Yitro 5763-2003

"Proving G-d's existence"

While we like to speak of "proof" of G-d's existence, Judaism does not really encourage this course of intellectual exercise, simply because the "finite" human mind cannot possibly comprehend the "Infinite." But while there may not be any "ultimate" proof of G-d's existence, there are surely many, many indications and abundant evidence. Indeed, a most persuasive case, from a variety of disciplines, can be made for G-d's existence.

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0 Comments11 Minutes

B’shalach 5763-2003

"Bringing G-d Home"

The Song of Moses crossing the Red Sea contains the well known verse: "This is my G-d and I will praise Him, G-d of my fathers and I will exalt him." If G-d is only the G-d of our fathers, the only thing one can do is put Him up on a pedestal and exalt Him. However, if we make G-d our G-d, we can bring Him home! We bring G-d home by building a personal relationship with G-d through study and reflection.

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Vayishlach 5762-2001

"Yisrael: The People Who Wrestle With G-d"

It wasn't only Jacob who wrestled with the angel of Esau and whose name was changed to Israel, because he "wrestled with man and with G-d and prevailed." In fact, all of the Jewish people are "wrestlers." A Jew is a person who is in constant tension with himself and with his environment, always looking to improve himself, to perfect society, striving to work out his/her relationship with G-d to make it more profound and more meaningful.

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0 Comments7 Minutes