Vayeitzei 5766-2005

"Deceit, More Deceit and Teraphim"

The theme of deception is central to parashat Vayeitzei as Laban deceives Jacob, and Jacob in turn deceives Laban. The final deception takes place as Rachel deceives her father, Laban, by stealing his Teraphim, his household idols, an act that the commentaries labor over diligently to comprehend.

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Eikev 5765-2005

"Understanding Birkat Hamazon, the Grace After Meals"

Parashat Eikev contains the verse that serves as the source of the mitzvah mandating the reciting of Birkat Hamazon--the Grace after Meals. What is the purpose of the Grace after Meals? Furthermore, how can a lowly mortal hope to bless or acknowledge the source of his food?

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Vayishlach 5764-2003

"Who Was Esau?"

It's hard to imagine why there is an entire chapter of the Torah dedicated to the genealogy of the descendants of Esau, Jacob's wicked brother. Yet, a remarkable lesson is to be learned from this seemingly out-of-place chapter. Through the hints that are found in the text, a people is better understood, their way of life elucidated, and as a result, the worthiness of the nation of Jacob, that is the people of Israel, is underscored.

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Vayechi 5763-2002

"How Important is Timing?"

When blessing his children, Jacob says of Reuben that he has all the natural advantages of the firstborn child in rank and in power. Jacob then retreats suddenly, declaring that Reuben is impetuous like water and therefore cannot be the foremost. As we study the actions, deeds and words of Reuben we find a good person--good-hearted and well-intentioned. Reuben is always ready to do the right thing. Unfortunately, his timing is off, intending to do the right thing, but, unfortunately, at the wrong time. As important as actions and words are, timing is just as critical.

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