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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Vayeishev 5771-2010

"Tamar: The Paradigm of an Heroic Woman”

Two women play key roles in parashat Vayeishev. One of them, Tamar, emerges as a paradigm of an heroic woman and goes on to impact profoundly on the destiny of the people of Israel.

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Vayeishev 5767-2006

"What's in a Name?"

Parashat Vayeishev contains the extraordinary story of Joseph and his brethren. At perhaps the most dramatic moment, the story suddenly pauses. A new saga of Judah's falling-out with his family is told. This saga is communicated not only by the words of the text, but also by a careful analysis of the names of Judah's sons, which have much to reveal to us.

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Vayeishev 5763-2002

"Judah Emerges as the Leader of Israel"

As the natural, charismatic leader, Judah's brothers abide by his suggestion to sell Joseph rather than kill him. But now that father Jacob is inconsolable, the brothers blame Judah for their father's misery. Judah has a falling out with his brothers and departs from his household ostensibly renouncing his family connections. He marries a local woman, has three sons, two of whom die after they are married to Tamar. Unknowingly, Judah has a sexual relationship with Tamar who becomes pregnant. After sentencing Tamar to death by burning, Judah, rising to the occasion, admits his guilt and spares Tamar's life. Judah thus becomes the first Ba'al Teshuvah (penitent) and emerges as the leader of Israel.

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Vayeishev 5762-2001

"Judah, the Paradigm for Jewish Future"

The two words that Judah utters, "Tzad'kah mee'meh'nee" (she is more righteous than I), when he admits that he impregnated his daughter-in-law, Tamar, changes not only the course of history for Judah, but the entire destiny of the Jewish people. It may very well be that, at least in part, our people are called "Jews" because of the profound act of penitence of our forefather, Judah.

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