Chayei Sara 5765-2004

"Reaching Out to Family Members"

Despite the fact that all his family who still resided in his native Mesopotamia were steeped in idolatry, Abraham decides to send Eliezer back to his homeland to find a bride for his son, Isaac. There is much we can learn from Abraham's perseverance and persistence in reaching out to and retrieving his family members who were so distant from his faith and his traditions.

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Toledot 5763-2002

"The Deeds of the Fathers are Signposts for the Children"

In parashat Toledot we read for the third time the story of our patriarchs going to Egypt or to Gerar on account of famine. This time it's Isaac and Rebecca, rather than Abraham and Sarah, but the stories are virtually identical to the previous two. The famed Italian Bible scholar, Umberto Cassuto, suggests that this story is a paradigm, and its frequent repetition is predictive of what will happen to the Jewish people in the future. There will be a famine, and the families of the descendants of Abraham and Isaac will leave Canaan and go into exile. The men will be threatened with death, but the women will be allowed to live. Eventually, the people will go out with great wealth.

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Chayei Sara 5763-2002

"The Torah's Recipe for Finding a Proper Mate"

This week's parasha is a primary source from which we learn much about the qualities that one should look for when seeking a mate. The lessons that may be gleaned from our scriptures serve as a sound guide, even for contemporary times. They are not primitive. In fact, in many instances, they are light-years ahead of contemporary practices and understandings.

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Toledot 5762-2001

"The Deception of Isaac"

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 clever plan in order to make certain that Esau does not receive the blessings of Jewish destiny.

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Lech Lecha 5762-2001

"Understanding Ishmael"

In order to truly understand Ishmael, we need to know the background of his mother, Hagar, the Egyptian princess, who abandoned her pampered royal life 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 planet, it is important to understand the endowments and strengths of Ishmael.

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Toledot 5760-1999

"A Lesson from Jacob and Esau: Understanding and Accepting Differences"

There are differences in children, and differences in parents' attitudes towards children. Some of the commentators note 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 childrens' natures, and that they were both given the same cookie-cutter educational experiences. There is a great price to pay for not recognizing each child's individual needs.

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