Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

VAYETZEI 11/19/2017 02:03 PM

Our father Yaakov now embarks on a long, tortuous journey that represents the story of his life. In recounting his story before Pharaoh, when he descended to live in Egypt, he was brutally frank in assessing his life: “My years compared to those of my ancestors have been few, and they have not been good ones.” From the onset, he swims in a sea of troubles. He is robbed by his nephew,...

TOLDOT 11/12/2017 03:35 PM

Our father Avraham was, according to the Mishna in Avot, tested ten times and overcame all of them. It is interesting that most of the commentators that describe and enumerate these ten tests do not identify Avraham as being the son of Terach as one of these tests. One can easily think that this perhaps would have been one of the major tests in his lifetime. But the Torah takes into account a...

CHAYEI SARAH 11/5/2017 02:59 PM

Avraham and Sarah have a loyal and devoted trustworthy servant named Eliezer. His abilities and nobility of character enable him to be entrusted with the most personal and sensitive of assignments and missions. His name has been used by Jewish families for thousands of years as an honorable name for their sons. In fact, our great teacher Moshe named his younger son Eliezer as a remembrance of...

VAYERA 10/30/2017 02:19 PM

There are many angels that walk amongst us in this world, unrecognized by others. Angels apparently adopt the coloration of the society into which their mission has taken them. The prophets of Israel describe in vivid detail the description of angels as they appear in heaven’s court. They have wings and many-faceted eyes. They are fiery and swift, fearsome and relentless. But when they are on...

LECH LECHA 10/23/2017 02:49 PM

There is much comment and many different interpretations regarding the first two words of the second verse of this week’s Torah reading. The second word “lecha” – “for you” seems to be somewhat redundant in the construction of the sentence. Rashi therefore interprets it to mean “for your benefit and good.” The Lord instructs Abraham to leave his homeland and family located in...

NOACH 10/16/2017 04:11 PM

The greater a person is or believes he or she is, the smaller the room for error in one’s life decisions. Had Noach been merely Mister Noach, his choice of beginning the world again with a vineyard and wine would have been acceptable and even understandable. After all, the trauma of the destruction of so many human beings in the waters of the great flood required some sort of release of tension...

AFTER THE HOLIDAYS 10/16/2017 01:14 PM

The concluding week of Tishrei always carries with it a note of anti-climax, if not even sadness. The great holidays of the year have departed with their soaring beauty and meaningful moments of personal reflection. Flooded with memories of the past we were transported to a different existence, physically and emotionally. Time was slower, family dearer and our spiritual bond with our...

V’ZOT HABRACHA – BERESITH 10/9/2017 01:50 PM

As is usual and customary, the reading of the Torah concludes and is resumed again in an almost simultaneous fashion on the day of Simchat Torah. This juxtaposition of the readings is especially noticeable this year with the immediacy of Shabbat Bereshiith to Simchat Torah itself. The Torah concludes with the lesson of the mortality and the eternity of the human being. The Torah itself...

SUCCOT 10/2/2017 12:50 PM

All of us sense a feeling of spiritual deflation immediately after the exalted atmosphere of Yom Kippur. To have to plunge immediately and directly into the icy waters of everyday life is much too challenging a task. We have just been given an entire day to nurture our souls and to exist as angels without the necessity of fulfilling the requirements of our bodies. So the Lord, so to speak,...

YOM KIPPUR 9/25/2017 12:25 PM

The sublime holiness of the day of Yom Kippur is ushered in by the declaration of the annulmemment of vows in the Kol Nidrei service. Obviously we do not want to appear before the Heavenly court with outstanding unfulfilled commitments. But attempting to discharge one’s committed, seriously undertaken commitments by cancelling those obligations unilaterally seems, at first glance, to be a...