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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Rosh Hashana 5780-2019

“The Judgment of Ishmael, and its Contemporary Implications for all of G-d's Creatures”
(Updated and revised from Rosh Hashana 5761-2000)

Even the wicked Ishmael was given a “pass” by the Al-mighty and allowed to survive, because at that time of judgment he was not “worthy” of punishment. Similarly, the Al-mighty is prepared to give every sincere penitent the benefit of the doubt and inscribe us in the Book of Life.

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Vayeira 5769-2008

"Shalom Bayit, Little White Lies"

In parashat Vayeira, when Sarah learns that she is going to have a child at age 90, she laughs skeptically and says, "After I have withered shall I be fertile again, and my husband is old!" When G-d asks Abraham why Sarah has laughed, He omits Sarah's disrespectful reference to Abraham, saying instead that Sarah referred to herself about being old. Why the change?

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Chayei Sara 5766-2005

"Who Is Keturah?"

Our rabbis debate who was "Keturah," the new wife that Abraham takes at the end of parashat Chayei Sarah. There are those that say that she was an entirely new wife. Others argue that Keturah is really Hagar, whom Abraham brought back and remarried. In his mission to be "Av hamon goyim"--a father to many nations--Abraham has six additional children with Keturah and five grandchildren. It is not unlikely that these children, grandchildren and great grandchildren influenced the world with the little Abrahamic tradition that they undoubtedly imbibed from their grandfather and great grandfather.

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Vayeira 5762-2001

"The Akeida"

The binding of Isaac, known as the "Akeida," is one of the most noted and influential portions of the Bible, and one of the most enigmatic. The Akeida proclaimed a new and vital message to the world, boldly rejecting the abominable practice of child sacrifice that was rife among the ancient people--and usually performed in the name of the pagan deity.

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Lech Lecha 5762-2001

"Understanding Ishmael"

In order to truly understand Ishmael, we need to know the background of his mother, Hagar, the Egyptian princess, who abandoned her pampered royal life to serve as a handmaiden in the home of Abram and Sarah. After Hagar is expelled from the house by Sarah, she is promised by the angel that she will bear a child, Ishmael. Eventually, Hagar and Ishmael are again cast out, this time by Abraham, into the wilderness. The expulsion is the start of the great struggle between the children of Ishmael and the children of Israel. If we are ever to bring peace to our embattled planet, it is important to understand the endowments and strengths of Ishmael.

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Rosh Hashana 5761-2000

"The Judgment of Ishmael and its Contemporary Implications for all of G-d's Creatures"

From the story of Hagar and Ishmael that is read on Rosh Hashana from Genesis 21, we learn that even though Ishmael had an evil past and his potential for the future was not promising, G-d saved him because at that moment he could not be considered guilty. Surely this most hopeful and optimistic message is appropriate for all on Rosh Hashana. It is as if the Al-mighty does "somersaults" in order to find every possible reason to judge his creatures favorably.

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Chayei Sara 5760-1999

"The First Encounter Between Rebecca and Isaac: A Revealing Insight Into the Future"

When Rebecca raises her eyes and first sees Isaac, she falls off the camel and promptly covers her face with a veil. At the time, Isaac is returning from Be'er L'chai Ro'ee. We see that at their very first encounter, both Isaac and Rebecca carry much baggage with them. Isaac may still be recovering from the trauma of the Akeidah, and Rebecca's actions reflect her feelings of inadequacy about coming from a rather decadent idolatrous background and being betrothed to a great spiritual man. This encounter may explain the unusual relationship that the future couple will have.

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