CategoryBereishis

Vayigash: Pay Attention

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Prophecies, omens, and science. What is the Jewish view?
Should we read into the random occurrences in our lives? Should we view scientific advances as questioning our faith? And, by the way — is it possible to jump to the moon?

Vayishlach: When Success Breeds Humility

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What causes people to be magnanimous? What’s the right way to handle success?
When the first Chabad Rebbe bested his opponents and achieved legitimacy for the new Chassidic movement, he wrote a letter to his followers which set their priorities straight.

Vayetzei: What Makes a Hero?

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The Zohar’s story about Abraham, Rashi’s story about Jacob, and the Rebbe’s story about Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. What do the stories have in common? And what was the common denominator which made them eternal Jewish heroes?

Toldot: Turning a New Leaf

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The Talmud states that three categories of people are absolved of all their sins: the newly married, the newly appointed leader, and the newly appointed ‘sage.’
Why? Is this absolution attainable for ordinary people?
Life-lessons from Esau, Rabbi Ze’irah, and Israel’s third president.

Chayei Sarah: The Admission Test

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Every new bride goes through an ‘admission test’ in her new family. In Abraham’s family, there was a very high bar. Rebecca was accepted into the family only when she managed to bring several miracles into her home: A Cloud of Glory, a growing dough, and a candle that wouldn’t go out. What do those miracles represent?

Noach: When Noah Didn’t Argue

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When G-d tells Noah that he plans to destroy humanity, Noah does not pound on the table and demand mercy. Why? Why didn't he act like Moses, who pounded on the table and prevented the Children of Israel from being punished?

A deeper reading will shed light on Noah's reasoning and teach us how to judge others.

Vayechi: Sibling Rivalry

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Joseph brings his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to be blessed by Jacob before his demise. Jacob surprises them by putting his right hand on Ephraim, the younger son, and his left hand on Manasseh, the older one. Joseph jumps in to correct the mistake. But what exactly bothered him? What was so wrong about Jacob’s choice?
A lesson about education, sibling rivalry, and honoring parents.

Vayigash: Who Taught Joseph Tolerance?

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Joseph lived in a very unforgiving world. People weren’t as tolerant of other nations and other religions like today. Even the forefathers, who preached G-d’s word to the world, preferred to be shepherds, where they wouldn’t be forced to engage with the basest elements of idol-worshiping society. Yet Joseph was fully immersed in their world, and in fact, he was personally responsible for the...

Mikeitz: The Correct Form of Punishment

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Torah delineates a variety of punishments and penalizations, but imprisonment is not among them. Torah describes Joseph’s incarceration as a feature of the Egyptian ‘judicial system’ – not as a recommendation. In Torah law, prison is not mentioned at all.

Vayeshev: Faith vs. Initiative

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Yosef was sent to prison where he met Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. He asked for their assistance in securing his release, and in response, Hashem punished him with two more years of imprisonment. Yet those two ministers were instrumental -- by Hashem’s design -- in Yosef’s ultimate release. How does this make sense?

Vayishlach: A Mother’s Dedication

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Yaakov asked his son Yosef to inter him in the Cave of Machpelah. He took the opportunity to explain why he buried his mother on the road near Beit Lechem instead of bringing her to the Cave of Machpelah - so that the children of Israel on their way into exile would pray at her gravesite and ask her to intercede on their behalf. But why should Yosef come to terms with his mother’s loneliness? How...

Toldos: Faith in G-d – On Whose Account?

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Our Sages command us to honor the Shabbat and promise that the costs won’t be included in our destined portion for the year. But there is a caveat: If you have no assets, don’t go into debt. Why can’t we borrow with the power of our faith in G-d?

7 Cheshvan: Dry Jew or Rainfall?

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The holidays of Tishrei precede the fall months when fields need rainfall. Nonetheless, our Sages delayed the prayer for rain until the last traveling pilgrims would arrive home safely. But why does one Jew’s comfort override the critical need for rainfall?
A powerful lesson in the importance of Ahavat Yisrael, and how deeply it can impact a person.

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