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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

VAYECHI

The conclusion of the book of Bereshith reaches its climax this week with the recording for us of the death of our father Yaakov and of Yosef. The era of the founders of our people ended in relative tranquility and contentment, albeit on foreign soil. It will be a long and arduous journey for the descendants of Yaakov to return home to the Land of Israel. A dark and forbidding era is about...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYIGASH

The opening verses of this week's Torah reading are among the most dramatic and challenging in the entire Torah. Two great, powerful personalities in the house of the children of Yaakov, Yehudah and Yosef, engage in a clash and debate of epic proportions, regarding the release of their brother Binyamin. At first glance it seems obvious that Yosef has the upper hand in his struggle. After all,...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

MIKETZ

The dreamer is about to be saved by dreams, albeit not the ones that he dreamt but rather those dreamt by an unlikely stranger – the Pharaoh of Egypt himself. But dreams are dreams and often times they do not coincide with human reality. What makes Yosef so extraordinary in the eyes of Pharaoh was his ability to, so to speak, dream along with Pharaoh, interpret his dreams and translate them...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYESHEV

The Torah parsha begins with the simple narrative statement that Yaakov settled and “dwelled in the land of the sojourn of his forefathers, the Land of Canaan.” That last clause in that sentence – the Land of Canaan – seems to be superfluous. We are already well aware from the previous parshiyot of Bereshith that Avraham and Yitzchak dwelt in the Land of Canaan. Since every word and...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYISHLACH

Many commentators over the ages have seen in the two confrontations between Yaakov and Eisav – first the struggle with Eisav’s angel and then the meeting with Eisav in the flesh – the two-front war that Judaism and the Jewish people have been forced to fight over millennia in order to simply survive. The struggle with Eisav’s angel, as described in the parsha, represents a spiritual...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYETZEI

Our father Yaakov leaves his home, he who is accustomed to study, tranquility, and to “dwelling in tents,” and immediately finds himself alone and endangered in a hostile world. A rock is his pillow and he must erect barriers at night to protect himself from wild animals (both four and two footed) as he sleeps on the ground. Though he is reassured by Heaven and by his grand dream and vision...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

TOLDOT

The troubling question that has persisted throughout the ages of biblical commentary on this week’s parsha is: What is Yitzchak thinking in regard to giving the blessings and heritage of Avraham to Eisav? Basically the comments and explanations fall into two categories. One of them is that Yitzchak is fooled by Eisav and is really unaware of his true nature and wanton behavior. Rashi,...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

CHAYEI SARAH

In truth, our mother Sarah, like many other mothers past and present in Jewish life, has not quite received her due. Rashi, quoting Midrash in describing Sarah’s life, states that all the years of Sarah’s life were “for good.” He must mean “for good” in a spiritual and holy sense, for in her physical worldly life there was little good that she experienced. Wandering over the Middle...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYERA

The story of the miraculous birth of Yitzchak to his ninety-year-old mother Sarah is not only one of the highlights of the parsha but it is one of the foundation narratives of all of Jewish history. Without Yitzchak there simply isn’t a Jewish people. The birth of Yitzchak is one of the triumphal moments of Jewish life, a reflection of God’s mercy and guidance in creating His special people....

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

Lech Lecha

The Torah now proceeds from the general and universal story of humankind to concentrate on the particular and individual story of the founding of the Jewish people. The story of Avraham and Sarah, their difficulties and challenges, their loneliness and spiritual quest, form the essence of this parsha and the next one as well. In this life story they create the prototype for all later Jewish and...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein