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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Sabbath/ Holidays

VAYISLACH 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...

CHAYEI SARAH 10/28/2018 12:54 PM

The loss of one’s beloved spouse, especially after many years and decades of marriage and shared life, is always a traumatic and shattering blow. Those of us, who unfortunately have also experienced this occurrence of Avraham’s life in our own lives can testify as to the emotional damage and even physical harm that this sad experience can occasion. We see from the life of our father Jacob...

VAYERA 10/21/2018 08:48 AM

One of the more salient lessons that we derive from this week's Torah reading regarding Abraham and Isaac is the emphasis that the Torah places on the fact that they went together to ascend to the mountain of Moriah. The hallmark of Jewish life over its long history has been the continuity and bond between generations. Every generation differs in many aspects from the generation that preceded...

LECH LECHA 10/14/2018 11:55 AM

The pace of the narrative of the Torah abruptly changes with the events described in this week’s reading. Until now the Torah has dealt with large periods of time and many many generations and different numbers of human beings and nations. It concerns itself apparently with a broad overview of the origins of human civilization and of the formation of societies, tribes and nations. Its...

NOACH 10/7/2018 12:49 PM

The opening sections of the Torah with which we are currently engaged in studying, deal with one of the central problems of human existence and that is the ability to cope with tragedy, disappointment and frustration. The adjustment of human beings to being driven out of the Garden of Eden is really the entire story of human civilization and of its very bleak moments. This week we read of the...

BERESHITH 10/3/2018 10:09 AM

There is a tendency to look at the narrative that appears in this first portion of the Torah as being a description of the past – the story of the beginnings of creation, the planet and universe and of the story of civilization. However, we are taught in the traditions of Judaism that the Lord, so to speak, creates our universe and world anew each day. Thus, the narrative contained in this...

GENERATIONS OF DEPENDENCE AND POVERTY 10/2/2018 01:13 PM

One of the saddest and most disturbing aspects in much of our society is the continuity of dependence and poverty within families from one generation to the next. As a Rabbi, I receive many requests to help the needy on a regular and constant basis. Within my limited abilities, I do what I can or at least what I think I can. Some years ago, there was a young woman who came to me and asked if...

SUKKOT 9/16/2018 10:52 AM

Living here in Israel allows one to gain a deeper appreciation of the holidays of the Jewish calendar. In their deepest sense, they were all meant to be observed here in Israel. Perhaps that is what our rabbis intended when they cryptically said that the observance of the Commandments of the Torah that the Jewish people have fulfilled and continue to practice in the Diaspora is really a training...