Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

BSHALACH

There is a great difference in the perception of a momentous historic event, between the generation that actually experienced it, was witness to and perhaps even participated in it, and later generations who know of the event through tradition and history. The facts regarding events can be transmitted from one generation to the next, even for thousands of years, but the emotional quality, the...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

BO

As the drama of the Exodus from Egypt draws nearer its climax in this week’s Torah reading, one cannot help but be struck by the stubbornness of Pharaoh in the face of all of the plagues visited upon him and his nation. His advisers had long before told him that all was lost and that he should cut his losses quickly by freeing the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery. This seemingly wise and...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAEIRA

As the narrative of the redemption of the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage unfolds, I am continually struck by the apparently gradual process that is described for us in the Torah. What does all of the detail associated with each of the plagues visited upon Egypt come to teach us? And would not one great plague alone have sufficed? After all, in the past century we witnessed how two bombs,...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

SHEMOT

The Torah leaves us basically unprepared for its description of the events that are recorded for us in this week’s parsha. When we last left the family of Israel at the conclusion of last week’s parsha of Vayechi, the Jews found themselves comfortable, affluent, protected and settled well in the land of Goshen. The Torah does not describe to us the process by which this situation so...

Posted in:
Sabbath/ Holidays
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYECHI

The traditional rabbinic approach as to why this portion of the Torah is the titled “vayechi Yaakov” even though the subject matter of this Torah portion concerns itself with the death of Yaakov is that as long as his descendants – the Jewish people – are alive and functioning, then Yaakov is still considered to be alive. The message here is one of immortality and continuity, family...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYIGASH

The statement of our father Jacob to the Pharaoh of Egypt that “my years of life have been few and most unpleasant” is most perplexing. We all know the well-known anecdote that one of the most disappointing things in life is to ask someone how he or she is and they actually tell you. One would’ve expected that Jacob would have answered the Pharaoh in a general, positive fashion. Rashi...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

MIKETZ

The entire narrative of the story of Joseph and his brothers, as he sent off the Jewish people to Egyptian society, slavery and ultimate redemption, is meant to illustrate to us the guiding hand of Providence in human affairs. There is no question that all of the participants in this dramatic narrative acted according to their own wishes and wisdom. Yet the confluence of all of these...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYEISHEV

Modern writers and commentators have found the biblical narratives of the book of Bereshith irresistible in their penchant for psychoanalyzing people described in terms of modern understanding and current correctness. In so doing they do a great disservice to Jewish tradition and present a distorted picture of the message that the Bible is attempting to convey. The narrative regarding Joseph...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

VAYISHLACH

The prophet of Israel, describing what can unfortunately be characterized as the usual situation in Jewish life, states that it is comparable to one who flees from the lion and finds one's self in the embrace of a bear. Our father Jacob, who barely escapes from the treachery of Lavan, soon finds himself confronted by the deadly mob of his brother Eisav. Jacob, in his confrontation with...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYEITZEI

Our father Jacob was a very strong and powerfully physical person. We read of his physical prowess in his previous encounter with the shepherds of Haran and later of his wrestling match with the angel of Esav, at the river of Yaabok. His sons, though young in years, are also very powerful and strong physically and filled with self-confidence, without fear of confronting dangerous enemies. We will...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein