Vayeitzei 5782-2021

“From Ish Tam to Business Mogul: The Transformation of Jacob”
(updated and revised from Vayeitzei 5762-2001)

How does Jacob, who is described in the Torah as an ingenuous man who sits and studies in the tent, become so incredibly successful--a master businessman? According to Professor Ernest Van Den Haag much of it has to do with education, one of the most exalted values in Jewish life. It could be that when Jacob took a 14 year detour to study at the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever before he arrived at Laban's, he sharpened his cerebral skills to prepare for his encounter with the wily Laban. Could it be that Jacob's “Yeshiva” education also contributed to his incredible financial successes?

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Toledot 5782-2021

“The Deception of Isaac”
(updated and revised from Toledot 5762-2001)

How is it possible that the great patriarch Isaac wished to give the blessing to his son Esau rather than to the more deserving Jacob? A possible approach to this quandary may be found in the suggestion that Isaac never intended to give the Abrahamitic blessing of inheriting the land of Canaan to Esau. What he merely wished to promise Esau was wealth, success in the field and dominion over his brothers. Rebecca, however, was unaware of Isaac's true intentions. Unfortunately, Rebecca is unable to approach Isaac directly, resorting to a questionable strategy to make certain that Esau does not receive the blessings of Jewish destiny.

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Vayechi 5781-2021

“Revealing the Time of the Coming of the End of Days”
(Updated and revised from parashat Vayechi 5761-2001)

Parashat Vayechi is the only Torah parasha that has no empty spaces between the beginning of the new parasha and the end of the previous week's parasha. Vayechi is consequently considered a "sealed" parasha. The rabbis say that the reason the parasha is sealed is because Jacob wished to reveal when the end of days would be--when the Messiah would arrive. G-d, however, did not agree that Jacob should reveal this information. The frequent contemporary attempts to calculate the Messiah’s arrival raises many questions. The Malbim offers an engaging response.

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Vayeishev 5781-2020

“Judah, The Paradigm for Jewish Future”
(Updated and revised from Vayeishev 5762-2001)

The two words that Judah utters, צָדְקָה מִמֶּנִּי--"Tzad'kah mee'meh'nee"--“she [Tamar] is more righteous than I,” when he admits that he impregnated his daughter-in-law, Tamar, changes not only the course of history for Judah, but the entire destiny of the Jewish people. It may very well be the reason that, at least in part, our people are called "Jews" because of the profound act of penitence of our forefather, Judah.

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Vayishlach 5781-2020

“The Proper and Improper use of Zealotry”
(updated and revised from Vayishlach 2000-5761)

We read of the very painful and distressing episode of the rape of Dinah, by the ruler of Shechem. Employing subterfuge in order to avenge the attack on their sister, Dinah's brothers, Simeon and Levi, demand that the men of the city be circumcised if they want to marry any Jewish women. While recovering from their circumcision, the men of Shechem are killed by Simeon and Levi, and the city is plundered by the remaining sons of Jacob. Jacob condemns Simeon and Levi for their violence and never seems to forgive them until the day of his death. However, the tribe of Simeon seems to bear that condemnation forever, whereas the tribe of Levi becomes the spiritual leader of Israel. Why their different fates?

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Vayeitzei 5781-2020

“The Role of Mother Rachel in Jewish History”
(updated and revised from Vayeitzei 2000-5761)

Mother Rachel is not only the great matriarch, she also is considered the great defender of her children--the Jewish people. It is Mother Rachel who watches over her children as they go out to exile and return, passing by her grave located on the road to Bethlehem. How fortunate are her progeny to have a mother who is always there for her children.

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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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Vayigash 5780-2019

“The Reunion of Jacob & Joseph: An Immortal Lesson about Love”
(updated and revised from Vayigash 5760-1999)

After 22 years of mourning for his lost son, the rabbis state that when Jacob and Joseph are reunited, Jacob could not kiss his son because he was reciting the Shema prayer. What was the reason for Jacob’s odd behavior? Couldn’t he have prayed before or after the reunion with his son?

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Vayishlach 5780-2019

“The Massacre of Shechem, Can it be Justified?”
(Updated and revised from Vayishlach 5760-1999)

The rabbis are challenged deeply by the rape of Dina and the subsequent massacre of the men of Shechem by Simeon and Levi. They try valiantly to explain why Dinah was fated to suffer so horribly. They also debate whether the actions of Simeon and Levi can in any way be justified.

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Vayeitzei 5780-2019

“Who is the Real Enemy?”
(Updated and revised from Vayeitzei 5760-1999)

Despite his limited role in the biblical narrative, Jewish history portrays Laban as a significant, evil character. He plays a major role in the Passover Haggadah, where he is referred to as “the Aramaean who sought to destroy our father.” Laban is even considered more dangerous than Pharaoh. Pharaoh is an outright, public enemy. Laban, on the other hand, embraces us in a false embrace and his kiss is the kiss of death. Because he feigns love, and since we are unaware of Laban’s subtle desire to destroy the Jewish people, he is far more dangerous than Pharaoh.

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Vayeishev 5780-2019

“The Coming of Age of Joseph: from Lad to Bechor”
(edited and revised from Vayeishev 5760-1999)

When first introduced to Joseph, we are told that he is 17 years old and a lad. It is Joseph’s struggle to mature andbecome less self-centered that is the real story behind the story of Joseph. Joseph eventually overcomes his immaturity and vindictiveness. He becomes a person of compassion and forgiveness, no longer the self-centered teenager who sees the world only through his own eyes. Joseph emerges as the bechor, the firstborn, and the rightful heir of Israel.

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Toledot 5780-2019

“A Lesson from Jacob and Esau: Understanding and Accepting Differences”
(Updated and revised from Toledot 5760-1999)

Some bold commentators have suggested that the difficulties between Jacob and Esau may be due to the fact that not enough attention was paid to the innate differences in the children’s natures, and that they were both, mistakenly, given the same cookie-cutter education. There is always a great price to pay for not recognizing that children have individual and personal needs that must be addressed.

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Vayechi 5779-2018

“Jacob Blesses His Grandchildren”

What were the special characteristics of Ephraim and Menashe that earned them the honor of serving as paradigms in the parents' Shabbat blessings for their male children throughout Jewish history?

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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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Vayishlach 5779-2018

“Jacob’s Challenging Life”

Our Patriarch Jacob, lived a life of many challenges. Yet, he never gave up hope and never became bitter. There is much to learn from father Jacob about facing and living with overwhelming adversity.

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Vayeitzei 5779-2018

“The Deceivers are Deceived”

Jacob, the deceiver of Esau, is himself deceived by Laban. Torah law insists that employer-employee relationships must be based on truth and honesty.

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Vayigash 5778-2017

“Jacob’s Enhanced Joy from Joseph His Righteous Son”

Jacob’s reunion with his beloved son Joseph, after a separation of 22 years, was enhanced by the knowledge that Joseph had remained true to his faith during that long separation from his family.

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Vayeitzei 5778-2017

“Three Wells ”

Wells play an important role in the Torah and in Judaism. It is interesting to contrast the well of Jacob, with the wells of Eliezer and Moses in Midian.

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0 Comments8 Minutes