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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Toledot 5766-2005

"Why Was Rebecca Barren?"

In parashat Toledot, Isaac and Rebecca both pray that Rebecca will be blessed with a child. After many years of barrenness, G-d listens to the prayer and Rebecca conceives. Why was Rebecca barren, and why were the other matriarchs--Sara and Rachel--also barren? Our rabbis offer up a host of answers. Those answers notwithstanding, we need to be more sensitive in our relations to those couples who pray for children and are not given a positive response.

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Vayeishev 5765-2004

"A Personality Profile of Joseph"

The personality of Joseph is complex and fascinating. Much of Joseph's future life is determined by his early childhood, especially the death of his mother and the fact that he was favored by his father. How Joseph deals with these elements of his life constitutes one of the most fascinating stories in human literature.

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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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Vayeishev 5764-2003

"The Two Sides of Joseph"

Joseph, the child that Rachel bears after many years of barrenness, is an answer to her prayers, but Joseph soon becomes a thorn in the side of his brothers. How does a child, who is both adored by his parents and loathed by his siblings, develop? In this case, he becomes a Master of Dreams, a father of two tribes, and a viceroy of the mightiest empire in the ancient world.

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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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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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Vayechi 5760-1999

"How Important is Timing?"

When blessing his children, Jacob says of Reuben that he has all the natural advantages of the firstborn child in rank and in power. Jacob then retreats suddenly, declaring that Reuben is impetuous like water and therefore cannot be the foremost. As we study the actions, deeds and words of Reuben we find a good person--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, unfortunately, at the wrong time. As important as actions and words are, timing is just as critical.

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