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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

VAYECHI

The traditional rabbinic approach as to why this portion of the Torah is the titled “vayechi Yaakov” even though the subject matter of this Torah portion concerns itself with the death of Yaakov is that as long as his descendants – the Jewish people – are alive and functioning, then Yaakov is still considered to be alive. The message here is one of immortality and continuity, family...

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Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYIGASH

The statement of our father Jacob to the Pharaoh of Egypt that “my years of life have been few and most unpleasant” is most perplexing. We all know the well-known anecdote that one of the most disappointing things in life is to ask someone how he or she is and they actually tell you. One would’ve expected that Jacob would have answered the Pharaoh in a general, positive fashion. Rashi...

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Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

MIKETZ

The entire narrative of the story of Joseph and his brothers, as he sent off the Jewish people to Egyptian society, slavery and ultimate redemption, is meant to illustrate to us the guiding hand of Providence in human affairs. There is no question that all of the participants in this dramatic narrative acted according to their own wishes and wisdom. Yet the confluence of all of these...

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Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYEISHEV

Modern writers and commentators have found the biblical narratives of the book of Bereshith irresistible in their penchant for psychoanalyzing people described in terms of modern understanding and current correctness. In so doing they do a great disservice to Jewish tradition and present a distorted picture of the message that the Bible is attempting to convey. The narrative regarding Joseph...

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Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

VAYISHLACH

The prophet of Israel, describing what can unfortunately be characterized as the usual situation in Jewish life, states that it is comparable to one who flees from the lion and finds one's self in the embrace of a bear. Our father Jacob, who barely escapes from the treachery of Lavan, soon finds himself confronted by the deadly mob of his brother Eisav. Jacob, in his confrontation with...

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Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYEITZEI

Our father Jacob was a very strong and powerfully physical 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...

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Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

TOLDOT

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...

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Weekly Parsha
by
Faigie Gilbert

CHAYEI SARAH

Our matriarchs of Israel were very strong personalities and were formidable women. The life experiences of our mother Sarah are an excellent example of this assessment of character and behavior. From the Torah narrative we are informed early on that she is infertile, unable to conceive and give birth naturally. Nevertheless, we do not hear despair from her. She is willing to bring another woman...

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Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

VAYEIRA

Wars, family dysfunction, and the danger of future extinction are the challenges that confront our father Avraham and our mother Sarah in the narrative that dominates this week’s Torah reading. In this era, correcting the past and editing personal biographies to make people’s lives appear perfect, serene and smooth, is especially true. This methodology attempts to make the subject character...

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Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

LECH LECHA

There is much comment and many different interpretations regarding the first two words of the second verse of this week’s Torah reading. The second word “lecha” – “for you” seems to be somewhat redundant in the construction of the sentence. Rashi therefore interprets it to mean “for your benefit and good.” The Lord instructs Abraham to leave his homeland and family located in...

Posted in:
Weekly Parsha
by
Rabbi Berel Wein