Toledot 5781-2020

“The Ancient Origins and Practice of Anti-Semitism”
(updated and revised from Toledot 2000-5761)

We learn in parashat Toledot that the Philistines envied Isaac, resulting in one of the earliest acts of recorded anti-Semitism. The Philistines close up all the wells that Abraham's servants had dug. It is likely that the Philistines also desperately needed water in this arid land, but they stopped up the wells for spite, to make certain that Isaac and his family would be unable to use them. It is not unusual for anti-Semites to hurt themselves at least as much as they hurt their would-be victims, the Jews.

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Rosh Hashana 5780-2019

“The Judgment of Ishmael, and its Contemporary Implications for all of G-d's Creatures”
(Updated and revised from Rosh Hashana 5761-2000)

Even the wicked Ishmael was given a “pass” by the Al-mighty and allowed to survive, because at that time of judgment he was not “worthy” of punishment. Similarly, the Al-mighty is prepared to give every sincere penitent the benefit of the doubt and inscribe us in the Book of Life.

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Chayei Sara 5762-2001

"Raising Jewish Children In A Challenging Environment"

Abraham had eight children: Isaac, Ishmael and his six children with Keturah. Only Isaac and Ishmael are reported to have attended Abraham's burial, and only Isaac is expected to continue the spiritual legacy of Abraham. Nevertheless, the Zohar Chadash notes that even the six children of Keturah are called Abraham's children, attesting to the fact that they carried the spark of Abraham in their souls, however much it may be hidden. There are many lessons that we may learn from Abraham and his child-rearing techniques.

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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 5761-2000

"The Ancient Origins and Practices of Anti-Semitism"

We learn in parashat Toledot that the Philistines envied Isaac, resulting in the earliest acts of recorded anti-Semitism. The Philistines close up all the wells that Abraham's servants had dug. It is likely that the Philistines also desperately needed water in this arid land, but they stopped up the wells just to make certain that Isaac and his family would be unable to use them. It is not unusual for anti-Semites to hurt themselves at least as much as they hurt their would-be victims, the Jews.

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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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0 Comments10 Minutes