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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Vaeira 1/19/2020 12:18 AM

This week’s Torah reading contains the four famous words of redemption that signal the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt. Much has been made over the centuries as to the meaning and implication of each of these four Hebrew verbs. The fact that there are four such words used in the narrative of redemption fits the pattern that we find in the Hagaddah of Pesach – four sons, four...

SHEMOT 1/12/2020 06:32 AM

The Torah, Jewish history and tradition indicate to us that Heaven oftentimes chooses unusual people for roles that are essential and pivotal in Jewish leadership. King David is a clear example of this historical phenomenon. But I think that we can agree that the choice of Moshe to be the redeemer and eternal teacher of the Jewish people, if not of all civilization, is, at first blush, a strange...

Vayechi 1/5/2020 10:19 AM

The conclusion of the book of Bereshith sets the stage for all of the remaining history of the Jewish people. Jacob and his family have settled in the land of Egypt, and live under the most favorable of circumstances. Their son and brother, Joseph, is the de facto ruler of the country that has provided them with prosperity. However, Joseph himself warns them that the situation is only temporary...

VAYIGASH 12/29/2019 11:05 AM

The dramatic moment that Joseph has dreamed of for decades has finally arrived. His dreams are to be fulfilled and he has achieved the ultimate triumph over his brothers who doubted him and his integrity. And at that moment, when he is at the zenith of his power, he breaks down and weeps. He is unable to control his emotions and his care for his brothers and his father and for the future...

MIKETZ 12/22/2019 11:26 AM

Yosef’s dramatic ascent to power in Egypt is recorded for us in this week’s parsha. What is noteworthy is that Yosef does not appear to be at all surprised or amazed by the sudden turn of events in his fortunes. A person who lives by dreams is never surprised when the dreams turns into reality. Yosef always expected his dreams to come true in this world. So did his father Yaakov. And in...

VAYESHEV 12/15/2019 09:48 AM

In this great emotional drama that will consume the balance of the sections of this book of the Torah, we are witness to a very difficult family situation and the dynamic consequences that it creates. The Torah itself testifies to the love and favoritism that Jacob shows towards his son Joseph. We can well understand this relationship of Jacob to Joseph, since Joseph strongly resembled his...

Vayishlach 12/8/2019 11:43 AM

Our father Jacob and his family face two great crises that are recorded for us in this week’s Torah reading. The first is the long-awaited encounter with his jealous and dangerous brother, who decades later still smarts over the deal that he made in selling his birthright to Jacob. Jacob is aware that his brother has the potential to destroy him and his family, and he prepares three different...

VAYETZEI 12/1/2019 11:13 AM

Rashi quotes the well-known Rabbinic observation that the departure of a righteous person from a society is an indelible loss to the community. Now I do not want to sound like a heretic, God forbid, but for many years I was troubled by this statement. From my personal experience and observation of life, I did not always find this to be realistic and accurate. I have lived in many communities...

TOLDOT 11/24/2019 09:33 AM

Sibling rivalry is the name of the game. In fact, the entire book of Bereishis can be described as a narrative of sibling rivalry. We have Kayin and Hevel, Avraham and his nephew Lot, Yishmael and Yitzchak, Yaakov and Eisav and Yosef and his brothers. It is as though the Torah wishes to inform and impress upon us the true nature of human beings. I often think that that is what is meant...

CHAYEI SARAH 11/17/2019 12:50 PM

It is very difficult to sum up the experiences, worth and influence of an individual purely in words. That is why many times at funerals people who hear eulogies of the deceased feel that somehow the words of the tribute really did not capture the essence of the individual being memorialized. In the Torah reading this week, Abraham is said to have eulogized his beloved wife Sarah. The Torah does...