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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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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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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Bereshith 5775-2014

“The Sad Destiny of the Firstborn Children”

A prominent feature of the book of Genesis is the struggle for dominance between the first born and the younger siblings. In each instance, the younger sibling is chosen to serve as leader.

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Lech Lecha 5772-2011

“The Two Covenants”

In this week’s parasha, we learn of two covenants, the Covenant between the Pieces and the Covenant of Circumcision. What is the relationship between these two covenants?

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Chayei Sarah 5768-2007

"O Captain, My Captain"

Abraham passes away at age 175. His passing and his burial are described in only four verses. Yet there is much to be gleaned from the nuances of the text. The Midrash and the sages derive many powerful lessons from this brief biblical passage.

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Lech Lecha 5765-2004

"Was Hagar Abused?"

A desperate Sarai gives her handmaiden, Hagar, to Abram to be his wife and have a child on her behalf. When Hagar becomes pregnant, she begins to mock Sarai. Sarai abuses Hagar, and Hagar flees. Is it conceivable that our venerated matriarch Sarai really abused her vulnerable handmaiden, Hagar?

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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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Vayeira 5760-1999

"The Preciousness of Hospitality"

The 99-year-old Abraham is recovering from his recent circumcision when he sees potential guests on the horizon. Despite his pain, he quickly runs towards the wayfarers and begs them not to pass by his tent without accepting his hospitality. There is much to learn from Abraham's manner of welcoming guests. It is essential that we not lose the capacity to perform the important mitzvah of "Ha'chanasat Orchim."

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Lech Lecha – 5760-1999

"Understanding the Rite of Circumcision"

The ritual of circumcision, performed 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 the Jewish people live (or die) by the organ that is circumcised. After all, Jewish destiny depends upon how the Jewish male chooses to use his sexual organ. If Jewish men marry Jewish women and build strong Jewish families, then the covenant of G-d and the Jewish people will be affirmed. If, however, Jewish males allow themselves to be seduced and proceed to sow in foreign fields, then the covenant between G-d and the Jewish people is not only threatened, but may very likely be lost forever.

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