Rotzeh Ani – Coercion Meets Free Will

As the parasha begins detailing the various types of Korbanot/Sacrifices that would be brought, the Torah describes a person bringing a specific offering called an Olah [1], saying: אִם־עֹלָ֤ה קׇרְבָּנוֹ֙ מִן־הַבָּקָ֔ר זָכָ֥ר תָּמִ֖ים יַקְרִיבֶ֑נּוּ אֶל־פֶּ֜תַח אֹ֤הֶל מוֹעֵד֙ יַקְרִ֣יב אֹת֔וֹ לִרְצֹנ֖וֹ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה׃ “If one’s offering is an Olah Offering . . . he shall offer […]

The Unbinding of Shabbat

The recording of the concept of Shabbat is certainly not unique to Parshat Ki Tisah. It was mentioned previously at Creation, within the laws of collecting the man(na), as a positive mitzvah included in the Aseret HaDibrot, within the context of all the ‘holy’ days, and of course, within the description of the Mishkan. But […]

What’s Really Important

The Mishkan and Balancing Meaning and Extravagance this Purim Yaakov Culi, the extraordinary 17th Century Ladino rabbi and author of the famed Me’am Loez, when discussing the building of the Mishkan and the expenses contributed towards this project, expounds upon a gemara in the Yerushalmi (Pe’ah 8:8) to teach a profound lesson on Tzedakah. The […]

The (Shabbat) Table

In this week’s parsha we read about all the different vessels in the mishkan. One of the more interesting ones is the shulchan upon which the showbreads were placed. There is obviously something very peculiar about the shulchan and the process with which it is involved. We place twelve loaves of bread on the table […]

Confronting Religious Hypocrisy

When the Jewish People raise their eyes, and see the Egyptian soldiers and chariots kicking up dust galloping after them, there is nowhere for them to turn except for the Sea of Reeds. Understandably, they turn to Hashem and cry out as the pasuk says: “And the Children of Israel lifted their eyes and behold, […]

Then, Now and Forever

Immediately after the report of the devastation wrought by the first nine plagues, the Torah interrupts the dramatic narrative of Egypt’s destruction with Perek 12. The perek begins with describing the instructions to Bnei Yisrael concerning the Korban Pesach; it records the final plague – the death of all the first born throughout Egypt; and […]

To Know our Place in this World

And Yaakov called unto his sons, and said: “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the end of days.” (Bereishit 49:1) According to chazal, the vision of the end of days is concealed from him: Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: “And Yaakov called unto his sons, and said: […]

A Life of Meaning or a Life of Existence? Yaakov Avinu’s Pointed Message to Pharaoh

This week’s Parsha involves two epic showdowns between critical players in the Torah’s stories up until now. The first more well-known is the encounter between Yosef and Yehuda which comes to its dramatic conclusion within the very first moments of our Parsha. In an emotionally charged and fantastic scene, Yosef reveals his identity, sending his […]

היינו כחולמים – We Are Veritable Dreamers

As Chanukah begins, we find ourselves between the parsha of VaYeshev and the parsha of Mekeitz. Both are Parshiot of Yosef, and both are parshiot of dreams. Not only are dreams mentioned[1] but they are the catalyst for everything that happens. Yosef is sold by his brothers because of his dreams, Yosef is released from […]

Walk the Line

There is a midrash that casts some blame on Yaakov Avinu for Shechem’s violation of Dina. This source (Bereishit Rabbah 76) notices that Dina’s name is missing from the list of family members who are introduced to Eisav in the previous chapter. The midrash asks: וְדִינָה הֵיכָן הִיא, נְתָנָהּ בְּתֵבָה וְנָעַל בְּפָנֶיהָ, אָמַר הָרָשָׁע הַזֶּה […]