Naso 5772-2012

"The Most Famous of All Nazarites--Samson"

In parashat Naso we learn of the laws of the Nazarite, a person who seeks holiness. The Nazarite vows not to drink wine or anything derived from grapes, not to cut his hair, nor to become contaminated by coming in contact with the dead. It is for this reason that the rabbis chose the story of Samson, who was also a Nazarite, to serve as the weekly Haftorah, the prophetic message, that supplements this week’s Torah reading.

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B’shalach 5771-2011

"Avoiding the Philistines"

Despite G-d’s intentions to bring the people to the Promised Land, G-d does not lead the Israelites on a direct route to Canaan. The commentators question: What was the Al-mighty’s strategy in taking a roundabout route?

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B’shalach 5770-2010

"Va'chamushim - Armed or Otherwise"

When the enslaved Israelites finally leave Egypt, Scripture tells us that they leave "Chamushim," generally translated as armed. The commentators, however, offer many interpretations for the word Chamushim. Even though they are quite different from one another, each interpretation has much validity.

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Toledot 5770-2009

"The Jew Under the Microscope"

Jewish material success in the diaspora has often resulted in resentment of the Jew. This principle is clearly articulated in Isaac's successful endeavors in Grar and his subsequent expulsion.

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Toledot 5764-2003

"The Theological Underpinnings of Anti-Semitism"

In one of the first recorded acts of anti-Semitism, the Philistines blocked up the wells that had been dug by Abraham's servants. The juxtaposition of this act with the description of the economic success that was enjoyed by Abraham's son leads one to believe that the motivation for the evil acts perpetrated against him was economic envy. Is that truly the primary cause of this and other hateful acts perpetuated against Jews?

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Toledot 5761-2000

"The Ancient Origins and Practices of Anti-Semitism"

We learn in parashat Toledot that the Philistines envied Isaac, resulting in the earliest acts of recorded anti-Semitism. The Philistines close up all the wells that Abraham's servants had dug. It is likely that the Philistines also desperately needed water in this arid land, but they stopped up the wells just to make certain that Isaac and his family would be unable to use them. It is not unusual for anti-Semites to hurt themselves at least as much as they hurt their would-be victims, the Jews.

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