Vayishlach 5781-2020

“The Proper and Improper use of Zealotry”
(updated and revised from Vayishlach 2000-5761)

We read of the very painful and distressing episode of the rape of Dinah, by the ruler of Shechem. Employing subterfuge in order to avenge the attack on their sister, Dinah's brothers, Simeon and Levi, demand that the men of the city be circumcised if they want to marry any Jewish women. While recovering from their circumcision, the men of Shechem are killed by Simeon and Levi, and the city is plundered by the remaining sons of Jacob. Jacob condemns Simeon and Levi for their violence and never seems to forgive them until the day of his death. However, the tribe of Simeon seems to bear that condemnation forever, whereas the tribe of Levi becomes the spiritual leader of Israel. Why their different fates?

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Vayishlach 5780-2019

“The Massacre of Shechem, Can it be Justified?”
(Updated and revised from Vayishlach 5760-1999)

The rabbis are challenged deeply by the rape of Dina and the subsequent massacre of the men of Shechem by Simeon and Levi. They try valiantly to explain why Dinah was fated to suffer so horribly. They also debate whether the actions of Simeon and Levi can in any way be justified.

Read More


0 Comments12 Minutes

Vayechi 5774-2013

“Reconciliation and Death”

The Midrash greatly embellishes the final chapters of Genesis by adding fascinating details regarding the reconciliation of Joseph with his brothers and Joseph’s demise.

Read More


0 Comments8 Minutes

Lech Lecha 5771-2010

“Abram Prays for Others”

The Talmud states that those who invoke G-d’s compassion for their neighbors, and who are in need of a similar response, are answered first. In this week’s parasha, we find two instances where the commentaries indicate that Abram prayed for others.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Re’eh 5768-2008

"A Tale of Two Mountains"

In parashat Re'eh, we encounter the two mountains that surround the city of Shechem (Nablus), Gerizim and Ebal. Eventually, it was on Mount Gerizim that blessings were recited while the curses were pronounced on Mount Ebal. G-d's message, however, is communicated not only through the blessings and the curses, but through the very nature of the mountains themselves.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes

Vayishlach 5766-2005

"When a Jew Comes to the City"

The arrival of a tribal family to an established culture, is always a challenging experience for the newcomers. When Jacob and his family arrive in Shechem, there are many adjustments that need to be made, both on the part of the new Jewish inhabitants and the native non-Jewish residents.

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

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.

Read More


0 Comments10 Minutes

Vayishlach 5761-2000

"The Proper and Improper Use of Zealotry"

We read of the very painful and distressing story of the rape of Dinah, by the ruler of Shechem. Employing subterfuge in order to avenge the attack on their sister, Dinah's brothers, Simeon and Levi, demand that the men of the city be circumcised if they want to marry any Jewish women. While recovering from their surgery, the men are attacked by the sons of Jacob and killed. Jacob condemns Simeon and Levi for their violence and never seems to forgive them until the day of his death. However, the tribe of Simeon seems to bear that condemnation forever, whereas the tribe of Levi becomes the spiritual leader of Israel. Why their different fates?

Read More


0 Comments9 Minutes

Vayishlach 5760-1999

"The Massacre of Shechem: Can it be justified?"

The rabbis have a hard time with the rape of Dinah and the massacre of the men of Shechem. They try valiantly to explain why Dinah was fated to suffer so horribly. They also debate whether the actions of Simeon and Levi can in any way be justified.

Read More


0 Comments11 Minutes