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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Lech Lecha 5782-2021

“Understanding Ishmael”
(updated and revised from 5762-2001)

In order to truly understand Ishmael, we need to know the background of his mother, Hagar, the Egyptian princess, who renounced her pampered royal life and chose 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 nation, and to the world as a whole, it is important to understand the endowments and strengths of Ishmael.

It is not at all surprising that many of the ancient near-East documents contain parallel stories to the flood. Perhaps the most famous, is the Babylonian flood story known as the "Epic of Gilgamesh." And yet, despite the parallels, the stories are profoundly different. While the details regarding the flood are similar, the Torah revolutionizes the flood story by introducing what is most significant--the element of moral accountability.

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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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Lech Lecha 5778-2017

“The Beautiful, Barren Matriarchs”

All four matriarchs were both beautiful and barren. The commentators wrestle with the reason for these blessings and challenges.

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Toledot 5776-2015

"Rebecca Inquires of G-d"

The Torah reports that Rebecca seeks an answer for her terrible pains of pregnancy by inquiring of G-d. Who does Rebecca seek and what does she find?

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Toledot 5775-2014

“Good Families Bad Children, Bad Families Good Children”

Although Esau and Jacob were twin sons born to Isaac and Rebecca, each one developed very differently and chose a very different lifestyle from the other.

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Chayei Sarah 5775-2014

“Are Marriages Made in Heaven?”

When Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, asks Laban and Bethuel, Rebecca's brother and father, whether they will allow Rebecca to return to Canaan to marry Abraham's son, they reply: "The matter stemmed from the L-rd! We can say to you, neither bad nor good." Are marriages made in heaven?

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Pinchas 5774-2014

“The Battle for Women’s Rights”

Especially among those who have limited familiarity with the original scriptural sources, it is often perceived that women are regarded by Jewish tradition as being submissive and subservient to men, eager to fulfill the men’s will. Rabbi Yaakov Philber shows that this is a thoroughly incorrect perception.

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Chayei Sarah 5774-2013

"Yitzchak Establishes a Home with His New Wife"

The betrothal of Isaac and Rebecca can serve as a most valuable case study for finding a mate and establishing a successful home environment.

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Toledot 5772-2011

“Isaac Blesses His Sons”

Professor Menashe Duvshani was for many years the premier Bible educator for Israeli high school students. He offers a unique view on the story of Isaac blessing his sons.

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Toledot 5771-2010

“Isaac, the Man of Commitment”

When comparing Isaac’s experiences in Gerar, we find several similarities with Abraham’s experiences in both Gerar and Egypt. But what accounts for the many differences?

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Chayei Sarah 5770-2009

"The Willing Bride"

When Rebecca is asked by her family members if she wishes to join Eliezer on his journey back to Abraham in Canaan, she responds with a forceful "Yes!" Her response serves as a basis for several important laws that govern parent-child relationships in Judaism.

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Toledot 5769-2008

"The Blessings of a Tzaddik"

Isaac wants to bless his son Esau. Rebecca feels that Jacob is more deserving of the blessing. Does a tzaddik (a righteous person) really have the power to bestow blessings on others? Don't all blessings really belong to G-d?

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Toledot 5768-2007

"Esau's Loud and Bitter Cry"

When Esau realizes that he has been deceived of his blessing, he lets out a loud and bitter cry. Our commentators struggle to understand the cause and repercussions of this bitter cry. Some of the commentators suggest that all future generations pay for causing undue pain to Esau, expressed in his loud and bitter cry.

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Toledot 5767-2006

"The Unanswered Prayer"

Rebecca is barren, and she and Isaac pray for a child. Scripture tells us that G-d responds to Isaac's prayer and Rebecca becomes pregnant. What happened to Rebecca's prayer?

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0 Comments9 Minutes