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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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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Kee Tavo 5778-2018

“A Wandering Aramean?”

In the beautiful declaration that plays a prominent role in the Bikkurim ceremony, there is an ambiguous reference to “a Wandering Aramean.”

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Vayeitzei 5774-2013

"Jacob Separates from Laban"

There is much to learn from the complex separation process that takes place between Jacob and his wily father-in-law, Laban.

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Chayei Sarah 5771-2010

“What Shall I Do, My Parents Hate Him?!”

In parashat Chayei Sarah, we encounter the world’s first shidduch (arranged marriage) and the world’s first shadchan (matchmaker). In the past, we have discussed how Jewish law mandates that a woman not be married against her will, but what about the more general question related to children who refuse to listen to their parents’ opinion regarding choosing a mate, and wish to marry mates to whom their parents object? What is the protocol?

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Vayeitzei 5770-2009

"Punishment Awaits the Evildoers"

The great contemporary Bible commentator, Nehama Leibowitz brilliantly points out that Jacob's deception at the hands of Laban is actually a punishment for deceiving his own father, and for stealing his brother's blessings. Perhaps it's time for the leaders and members of all faiths to speak out against evil and deception within their own religious ranks.

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Vayeitzei 5769-2008

"Leah, the Fourth Matriarch"

Our matriarch, Leah, bears six of Jacob's twelve sons, and is nevertheless depicted as "s'nu'ah," (literally "hated"). Leah, is a complex figure who earns the title "matriarch" and in some ways, outshines her favored sister, Rachel.

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Vayeitzei 5768-2007

"How Dare You Accuse Me!"

When Laban accuses Jacob of stealing his teraphim (household idols), Jacob confidently responds: "With whomever you find your gods, that person shall not live." How is it possible for Jacob to be so certain that there was not a single thief among his family members or servants?

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Vayeitzei 5767-2006

"Dissing G-d"

G-d instructs Jacob to get up and leave Laban's house. Instead of departing post haste, Jacob consults with his wives, and then decides to leave. Is this a direct affront to G-d?

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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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Vayeira 5766-2005

"Confronting Adversity, Lessons from Father Isaac"

Especially when compared to the lives of the dynamic Abraham and Jacob, Isaac's life seems to be one of passivity and tragedy. And yet, with his unique ability to arise boldly from challenge and emerge from darkness, Isaac's life serves as a most valued example to his progeny. It is the model of Isaac that most closely parallels the history of the Jewish people.

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Vayeitzei 5765-2004

"Rachel: Portrait of a Matriarch"

This week's parasha paints a broad and fascinating portrait of the beloved matriarch, Rachel. Rachel's life is filled with moments of great exaltation and great desperation. There is much to learn from Rachel's life and actions.

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Kee Tavo 5763-2003

"Watch Out for Laban, He is More Dangerous Than Pharaoh"

As part of the Bikkurim declaration, the celebrants stated that "An Aramean tried to destroy my father." The Torah thus sees the Aramean, Laban, as more dangerous than Pharaoh. The fact that Pharaoh wants to do us in is well known, so we can protect ourselves. Our brother Laban, however, the wily Aramean, is always out there waiting for us, feigning love, conspiring to defeat us. We need always be on watch for him.

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Vayeitzei 5763-2002

"The Transformation of Jacob"

At first glance, Jacob appears to be a congenital deceiver. He takes the birthright from his brother then steals Esau's blessing. Even Isaac describes the taking of the blessing by Jacob as an act of deception. Jacob however undergoes a transformation in which he realizes that evil cannot be deceived, but must be confronted directly. For this reason, Jacob is to be regarded as a particularly exalted figure, for teaching humankind how one is to deal with one's own shortcomings.

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Vayeitzei 5761-2000

"The Role of Mother Rachel in Jewish History"

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 them.

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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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0 Comments10 Minutes