Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

VAYEITZEI 12/5/2016 04:31 PM

Yaakov is forced to flee from home and family because of the threat that his brother Eisav poses. He is informed by his mother that his brother, in a moment of jealousy, frustration and anger, threatened to kill him. Yaakov is no physical weakling; he is not the pale yeshiva student, the caricature of nineteenth century Haskalah literature. In fact, we see in this week's Torah reading the...

TOLDOT 11/27/2016 03:36 PM

The lives of our ancestors Yitzchak and Rivkah, the educational direction that they gave to their sons and their differing views of their household, are the subjects of biblical commentary throughout the ages. In our time a more intense psychological examination has dominated modern commentary, even traditional rabbinic commentary. The reason for this is the perplexing dichotomy of life and...

LOOKING AT GENERATIONS 11/20/2016 02:10 PM

On my recent visit to America I availed myself of the opportunity to visit with many of my grandchildren and great grandchildren. The great grandchildren are still mainly too young to recognize me and appreciate my connection to them. As one of them so succinctly put it when he was informed that I was his zaydie: “But I already have two zaidies!” So the experience and its meaning currently is...

CHAYEI SARAH 11/20/2016 01:28 PM

Our matriarchs of Israel were very strong personalities and were formidable women. The life experiences of our mother Sarah are an excellent example of this assessment of character and behavior. From the Torah narrative we are informed early on that she is infertile, unable to conceive and give birth naturally. Nevertheless, we do not hear despair from her. She is willing to bring another woman...

VAYEIRA 11/13/2016 02:47 PM

Wars, family dysfunction, and the danger of future extinction are the challenges that confront our father Avraham and our mother Sarah in the narrative that dominates this week’s Torah reading. In this era, correcting the past and editing personal biographies to make people’s lives appear perfect, serene and smooth, is especially true. This methodology attempts to make the subject character...

LECH LECHA 11/7/2016 03:09 PM

Our father Avraham is an inveterate wanderer. For a great deal of his life he is a traveller, always an immigrant in a new and alien society. Though he is recognized and respected as being a prince of God and a special person, an asset to any society in which he chooses to dwell, he still remains the eternal “outsider.” He constantly hears, reverberating in his mind, God’s original...

NOACH 10/31/2016 01:26 PM

It is understandably easy to become disgusted with human beings, with society and with the behavior of individuals. Over the many millennia, from the days of Noach until today, human history is a litany of violence, war, massacres of innocents, corruption, false idols, bankrupt ideals and constant strife. Europe has not known a war-free time for many centuries. The very agencies created by...

BERESHITH 10/26/2016 02:10 PM

One of the wisest and most astute comments of the rabbis of the Talmud regarding life is that “ all new beginnings are difficult.” That certainly is true regarding the beginning of human civilization as described for us in this week’s Torah reading. Everything that seemingly could go wrong did go wrong. Death, murder, fratricide, autocracy and oppression all make their due appearance in...

VZOT HABRACHA 10/16/2016 02:03 PM

Rashi points out that the blessings of Moshe to the Jewish people are based upon and mirror those of Yaakov as recorded for us at the end of the book of Bereshith. There are blessings that are eternal and always valid. There are those that are contemporary to the times in which they were given but have little relevance to other times. The blessings of both Yaakov and Moshe are of two individual...

HAAZINU 10/10/2016 12:40 PM

Haazinu is a poem with definite stanzas. It is one of the few places in the Torah where Jewish law dictates where the stops in the Torah reading should take place. This is done in order to retain the integrity of the poetic form of the reading. Aside from the aesthetic value of poetry itself, the Torah wishes to emphasize to us that there is a rhythm, order and cadence in life that influences us...