Vayeshev

Posted on December 3rd, 2017

Genesis 37:1−40:23



From Pride Comes Loneliness


Joseph's experience in prison teaches him, and us, that we succeed and flourish when we support those around us.


By Rabbi Bradley Artson, provided by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, for MyJewishLearning.com

In the development of Joseph’s character and the events of his life, the Torah portrays a bittersweet lesson about the loneliness of pride. On the surface, there is no reason for Joseph to be lonely. He is, after all, the favorite child of his father, surrounded by 11 brothers, in the midst of a bustling and energetic family.

Joseph has the potential to fill his life with friendship, family and love. Yet his need to be preeminent, his need to belittle the gifts and experiences of this family in order to glorify his own talents, isolate him from his own kin. We get a clue about the extent of Joseph’s pride from the very start.

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Vayishlach

Posted on November 27th, 2017

Genesis 32:4 - 36:43 


Rabbi Justin Goldstein for myjewishlearning.com 
A Tale of Two Jacobs

 

This biblical patriarch’s life is marked by an unresolved conflict with his dark side.


One reason the figures in Torah are so compelling is that they are not paragons of perfection; quite to the contrary they are complex individuals who struggle with the human condition. And no figure in Torah embodies this dichotomy more than Jacob. He is, truly, a broken man, his struggle for self-discovery marred by what might be described as a split personality. Perhaps one indication of this split is the fact that he receives a second name, Israel — Hebrew for “God Struggler.”

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Vayeitzei

Posted on November 19th, 2017

Genesis 28:10−32:3

By Rabbi Bradley Artson, provided by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, for MyJewishLearning.com

Children And Deferred Dreams

 

Reflected in the names of her children, Leah grows to recognize her own worth, independent of Jacob's feelings for her.

 

We all dream about our lives, our families and our destiny. Born into a world we did not create, motivated by hope, energy and drive, we spend our childhood and adolescence absorbing wonderful stories of adventure, heroes and fantasies.

And we dream. We dream of achieving the highest ideals of our fantasy life…of being president, landing on the moon or becoming a star. We imagine ourselves as wealthy, or famous or wise. Venerating a galaxy of admired adults, we imagine ourselves as one of them, as one of the best of them.

In the fantasies of children, life has no end; possibilities, no limit. And we are not alone in spinning those dreams. Children may aggrandize themselves, but they do so with the active consent and encouragement of their parents, grandparents, teachers and a supporting cast of thousands.
 
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Toldot

Posted on November 12th, 2017

Genesis 25:19-28:9

By Rabbi Bradley Artson, provided by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, for MyJewishLearning.com

 

John Wayne Meets Jacob Jacob inspires us to overcome our Esau-like desires for instant gratification and physical power.

 

Esau is surely one of the most tragic figures of the Bible. He is a simple man, whose robust nature leads him to exult in his own health, strength and energy. Esau loves to hunt. He revels in the outdoors and in bursting limits. Esau is a man of impulse. Like Rambo or John Wayne, Esau thrives on his tremendous power, his physical courage and his own inner drives.

Modern America admires that. We distrust the intellectual. Someone who thinks too much, or who is too sensitive to the feelings of others (or to his own feelings) is held in disdain. We prefer a man who can impose his own will through a show of determination and strength, someone who doesn't plan in advance, someone who can relish the moment and trust his own passions.

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Chayei Sara

Posted on November 6th, 2017

Genesis 23:1 - 25:18 


BY RABBI ADINA LEWITTES for myjewishlearning.com 

 

The Miracle in Sarah’s Tent

 

How the matriarchs' homes resembled and inspired the Temple.


In this week’s Torah portion we encounter Isaac deep in mourning for his mother, Sarah. The Rabbis suggest he was inconsolable until he met his future wife, Rebecca.

In a scene that starts off like a Monty Python movie — “And Isaac went out walking in the field toward evening, and looking up, he saw camels approaching; raising her eyes, Rebecca saw Isaac and fell off the camel,” it quickly gets more serious:

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