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 […]

The Perfect Partner

A month after Yaakov arrived in Charan – during which time he had worked, unpaid, for Lavan – Yaakov’s soon-to-be father-in-law finally offers him with an opportunity to be compensated for any future contributions: “You are my family after all, and you’ve thus far worked for me for free, name your salary.” (29:15) Yaakov’s ultimate […]

Sheva Brachot

In this week’s parsha we are introduced to the first marriage in the Torah. It is contractual, well thought out, based on common values and has consent from those involved. This is in stark contrast to last week’s parsha which gave us a window into some of the most unhealthy relationships, with the promiscuous behavior […]

Avraham’s Unique Lesson of Kindness

The parasha opens with Avraham sitting in wait at the entrance to his tent and, despite recovering from surgery, he is hoping for a passerby upon whom he can bestow kindness. Three angels – Gavriel, Rafael and Michael – pay him a visit in the form of three Arabian travelers. Avraham runs to greet them […]

Sukkot – A Reality Check

This shiur is dedicated in memory of Avi Mori, Yehoshua ben Azriel HaKohen, on the occasion of his 33rd Yahrtzeit Sukkot begins this year on Sunday evening, so we will devote this week’s shiur to the mitzva of sitting in the Sukka. This mitzva, which appears in Sefer VaYikra, (23:42-43), is one of only a […]

Confident Changes

Moshe describes the mitzvah of Hakel, one of the final mitzvot of the Torah, in the following way: “Every seven years, at the conclusion of the Shmittah year[1], on Sukkot, when all Israel comes to appear before your God in the place that He will choose, you shall read this Teaching aloud in the presence […]