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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

Bo 1/17/2021 05:12 PM

Since every word of our holy Torah carries with it many layers of significance and importance, it is incumbent upon us to understand why this particular word, Bo, is employed by the Torah to describe a certain situation. In the opinion of the commentators to the Torah, the word Bo, which appears at the beginning of this week's reading, contains a deeper meaning than the simple translation...

VAEIRA 5781 1/11/2021 09:32 AM

The Mishne in Avot questions why the world was created, so to speak, by ten statements and utterances from Heaven. It explains that this shows the importance of life on this planet, and of the infinite universe itself, that it was lovingly created, when one statement alone would have been sufficient. The repetition of the statements of creation were a sign of affection between the Creator and...

SHEMOT 1/3/2021 09:39 AM

It is difficult to imagine a more unlikely scenario than the one described for us in the Torah as to the process of redemption of the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery. We can readily understand a personality of holiness and tranquility such as Aaron becoming the hero and redeemer of the holy people of Israel. We could also easily understand that the redemption could come from negotiations and...

VAYECHI 12/28/2020 10:59 AM

At the end of the book of Bereshith, as we read in this week's Torah reading, there is little warning as to what the very next Torah reading will discuss and describe. The transition, from the benign and idyllic last years of the life of our father Jacob, is a harsh reality of servitude and slavery visited upon his descendants. From the biblical narrative, it appears to have been sudden and...

VAYIGASH 5781 12/20/2020 12:00 AM

The brothers and Joseph finally meet each other head-on, without pretense and subterfuge. When Joseph reveals himself to the brothers, the veil of secrecy, role-playing, distrust, and enmity is ripped away. The dreams that apparently were the cause of this gripping family drama now reappear in their stark and simple meaning. The sheaves of grain are the brothers and the constellation of...

HAVDALAH 12/13/2020 01:05 PM

At the conclusion of the Sabbath the rabbis ordained an additional short service to mark the end of the holy Sabbath and the beginning of the weekday. I have always been emotionally affected by this service. It is the genius of Judaism to be able to differentiate between the holy and the mundane, between what is special and unique, and what is essentially ordinary and usual. In fact, it was...

MIKETZ 5781 12/13/2020 12:55 PM

The dreams of Joseph are actualized in this week's Torah reading. Miracles, though hidden, are somewhat natural events, and in this instance occur to facilitate this realization of the dreams of Joseph. We all dream, but not all dreams are miraculous per se. The great Pharaoh of Egypt also had dreams. The fact that he dreamt of fat cows and lean cows is also understandable, for that was the...

VAYESHEV 5781 12/6/2020 12:00 AM

This week's Torah reading begins with a simple statement that our father Yaakov settled in the land where his father had lived his entire life – the land of Canaan. Why is it so important that the Torah should bother to mention that this land was the land of Canaan? It seems obvious that we know from previous chapters where the family of Yaakov lived, and that it was the land of Canaan that...

CHANUKAH 5781 12/6/2020 12:00 AM

As we know, it is our tradition to recite the Hallel service on all eight days of the festival of Chanuka. However, on the great festival day of Purim, a day which also celebrates the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from disaster and extinction, the Hallel service is omitted from prayers recited on that day. The rabbis of the Talmud, commenting upon this difference between these...

VAYISHLACH 5781 11/30/2020 09:55 AM

One of the more perplexing questions that is raised in this week's Torah reading is why Yaakov sends agents and messengers to Eisav to inform his brother of his return to the land of Israel. King Solomon in Proverbs had already advised to let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak. So why should Yaakov place himself in a situation of anticipated danger and difficulty when it could have avoided. ...