Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

B’SHALACH 1/13/2019 06:43 AM

This week the Torah introduces us to the miraculous heavenly food – the mannah that fell from heaven and sustained the Jewish people for 40-years during their sojourn in the desert of Sinai. This food had miraculous qualities; it could acquire whatever taste the person eating it desired, it produced no waste material, but it had a very limited shelf life. It could not be stored for the next...

BO 1/6/2019 06:00 AM

At the beginning of this week's Torah reading Moshe is commanded by God to come to Pharaoh. The commentators of the Bible all deal with the strange verb used in this commandment. What does “bo” mean here – to come to Pharaoh? Should not a different verb such as approach or visit Pharaoh have been used? Since Hebrew is a very exact language, and as I have often mentioned, the opinion of the...

Vaeira 12/30/2018 06:00 AM

When the hardships imposed upon the Israelites became oppressive, Moses complains to heaven that the promises made to him have not been fulfilled. He has come to Pharaoh to ask him to free the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage, and Pharaoh laughs at him and tells him to forget it. In addition, the Jewish people themselves are not really believers in Moses, or in the fact that they...

Shemot 12/23/2018 01:09 PM

This week's portion records for us the beginning of the career of the great teacher of Israel, and in fact of all of civilization, Moshe. We are told of his miraculous salvation as a child from the River Nile and of the fact that he was raised by the daughter of the pharaoh in luxury and security. However, when he reaches an age of maturity, he realizes that the Egyptians are...

VAYIGASH 12/9/2018 09:58 AM

After Joseph is reunited with his brothers, and Jacob and his family journey to Egypt to settle there, Joseph brings his aged father in front of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Pharaoh, who was Emperor then of the entire civilized world, asks Jacob a strange question. He asks him: " How old are you?" On the surface, this can appear to be a natural question that people ask when encountering someone of very...

Miketz 12/2/2018 06:00 AM

In this week's Torah reading, we read of the dreams of the Pharaoh of Egypt. The Torah does not identify who this Pharaoh was. We know nothing about him, we know nothing as to how he became the Pharaoh. He is a complete mystery, yet he is the catalyst for everything that will happen. He will be the one who has Joseph released from prison. He is the one that will make Joseph the viceroy of...

VAYESHEV 11/25/2018 06:00 AM

The narrative in the Torah portion of Vayeshev, of how the Jewish people came down to Egypt and settled there for centuries, is in the form of a personality dispute between Joseph and his brothers. The Torah never covers up for anyone and is never hagiographic. It presents for us figures of great people, but it does not demand perfection from them. In short, they are human with all that this...

VAYISHLACH 11/18/2018 06:00 AM

Our father, Jacob, escapes from the mouth of the lion only to run into the arms of the bear. He leaves, in fact he flees, from the house of Lavan but is immediately confronted first with the angel of his brother Esau and later by Esau himself and an armed band of 400 men. Eventually Jacob escapes even from this trial by means of bribery, appeasement and the affectation of brotherly love...

VAYEITZEI 11/11/2018 09:00 AM

Our father Jacob was a very strong and physically powerful 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...

TOLDOT 11/4/2018 05:59 AM

In the competition between the brothers Esau and Jacob, Esau originally downplays any long-range view of the situation. He demands immediate gratification and is therefore more than willing to relinquish his birthright – which is only a long-range asset – in favor of an immediate bowl of hot lentils. As the Torah dutifully records for us in this week's reading, Esau will come to regret this...