Pekudei 5782-2022

“The Lesson of the Basin: ‘Don’t Judge a Basin by its Cooper’”
(updated and revised from Pekudei 5763-2003)

According to tradition, the basin that contained the sacred water in the Tabernacle was made of the bronze mirrors that the Israelite women used in Egypt to seduce their husbands who had separated from them, and who were unwilling to produce children who might be murdered by the Egyptians. Considering the mirrors to be objects of vanity, Moses was reluctant to accept the bronze from the mirrors. G-d responds, that the mirrors are far dearer to Him than anything else.

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Yitro 5782-2022

“Proving” G-d’s Existence"
(updated and revised from Yitro 5763-2003)

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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Vayigash 5782-2021

“The Virtues of Assimilation”
(updated and revised from Vayigash 5762-2001)

Once the brothers arrive in Egypt, there develops a difference of “philosophy” between Joseph and his siblings regarding assimilation and the possible loss of national identity while in Egypt. The brothers prefer to avoid any hint of permanent settlement in Egypt. By not establishing comfortable homes in Egypt, they hope to assure Israel's eventual exodus. Joseph, however, was optimistic about his family being able to lead a productive Jewish life in Egypt. Joseph does not see assimilation as total evil, but rather as a possible source of cultural enrichment, without resulting in a loss of personal Jewish identity.

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Va’eira 5781-2021

“Mesmerized by the Subtle Slavery”
(updated and revised from Va’eira 5761-2001)

The Torah tells us that Pharaoh literally had to chase the Jews out of Egypt, not only because Egypt was the country that they knew as their home, but because Egypt embodied values from which they were not prepared to separate. It is this “subtle slavery,” reflected in our admiration for, and indeed worship of, “alien” cultures and values, that is a cause of concern for Jews, even today.

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Shemot 5781-2021

“The Not-So-Obvious Process of Hebrew Enslavement”
(revised and updated from parashat Shemot 5761-2001)

The message of parashat Shemot is that the Jewish people probably became slaves long before the Egyptians enforced slavery upon them. Long before the back-breaking labor, the Sons of Israel had probably become slaves to Egyptian culture, Egyptian fashion and Egyptian values. It was inevitable that these committed Jewish-Egyptian “patriots” would become so deeply dedicated to Egypt politically, civically and emotionally that they would ultimately be unable to extricate themselves.

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Vayigash 5781-2020

“Joseph Helps His Brothers Repent”
(updated and revised from Vayigash 5761-2001)

Why did Joseph have to be so cruel to his brothers? Joseph apparently felt that it was necessary to put his brothers through an agonizing test in order to determine whether his brothers were truly Ba'alei T'shuva--fully penitent. Joseph brilliantly recreates the circumstances where Benjamin is now in the exact position that Joseph was in when he was thrown in to the pit by his brothers and sold to the Ishmaelites. Will the brothers this time stand up for Benjamin, or will they abandon the lad, as they did Joseph?

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Lech Lecha 5781-2020

“Lot, Nephew of Abram: The Promise and the Tragedy”
(updated and revised from Lech Lecha 2000-5761)

Abram was very close to his orphaned nephew, Lot, and did his best to educate him in the ways of morality and ethics. But, Abram and Lot soon grow apart because of Lot's obsession with comfort and wealth. At first, Lot showed great promise. In fact, he possibly could have become the material and spiritual heir of Abram, but instead he chose the luscious plain--he chose Sodom.

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Vayechi 5780-2020

"The Critical Importance of Timing"
(updated and revised from Vayechi 5760-1999)

When blessing his children, Jacob says of Reuben that he has all the natural advantages of the firstborn child in rank and in power. Retreating suddenly, Jacob declares that Reuben is impetuous like water and therefore cannot be the foremost. As we study the actions, deeds and words of Reuben, we find that he is a good person, who is extremely 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 at the wrong time. As important as actions and words are, timing is at least as critical.

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Vayakhel 5779-2019

"Jewish Women and Jewish Destiny"
(Revised and updated from Vayakhel 5760-2000)

We are told in parashat Vayakhel that the Jewish women responded immediately to the appeals that were made by Moses for gold for building the Tabernacle, swiftly removing their precious jewelry and rushing them to the Tabernacle. This was only one of the many heroic actions that the women of Israel performed. The key role that the women of Israel played in the redemption of the people of Israel is confirmed by the remarkable rabbinic statement asserting that “only in the merit of the righteous women, were our ancestors redeemed from Egypt.” It is quite likely that this is true, not only of the generation of Egypt, but for all subsequent generations as well.

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Mikeitz 5779-2018

"Why Did You Treat Me So Badly"

There was but a single instance in Jacob’s life where he complained to G-d about being treated badly. Jacob’s faithful attitude teaches the importance of having faith in G-d at all times, and that even in times of darkness, we must look forward to the dawning of a beautiful sun-filled tomorrow.

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Passover 5777-2017

“לֶחֶם עֹנִי --Lechem Oni: The Bread of Affliction

Matzah is referred to in scripture as "Lechem Oni," the bread of affliction. It is important for contemporary Jews to remember the message and meaning of "Lechem Oni," during our own Passover celebrations.

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Vayeishev 5775-2014

"Who Sold Joseph?"

The Biblical verses regarding the sale of Joseph conceal more than they reveal, leaving the answer to the question of who sold Joseph entirely ambiguous.

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Lech Lecha 5775-2014

“Lot Grows Increasingly Estranged from his Uncle Abram”

What starts off as an extremely close relationship between Abram and his orphaned nephew Lot, eventually becomes a complete estrangement. What was the cause of that estrangement?

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Bo 5774-2014

“In the Blink of an Eye”

Almost instantly, the status of the Jews in Egypt is transformed from that of vile enemy to respected friend, underscoring that salvation from G-d can occur in the blink of an eye.

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Shemot 5774-2013

“G-d Recognizes His People's Sufferings”

What was it that G-d saw in the behavior of the People of Israel that caused the Al-mighty to respond to the people’s cries at this particular time?

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Vayigash 5774-2013

“The Dreams and the Divine Covenant”

As Jacob’s entire family bows down before Joseph, all of Joseph’s dreams finally come true. But not only Joseph’s dreams come to fruition, the prophesies and predictions of the Covenant between the Pieces have also begun to be realized.

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0 Comments8 Minutes