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Rabbi Asher Brander

Rabbi Asher Brander is Rabbi of the Westwood Kehilla, Founder/Dean of the LINK (Los Angeles INtercommunity) Kollel, and has been a long time High School Rebbe.

Vayechi: Redemption of the Heart

January 8, 2009, by

“Why is it so hard to find Parshas Vayechi?” is the oft frustrating lament of the ba’al koreh (Torah reader) The answer of course is that Vayechi has the unique status of being the only stumah, i.e. the only Torah portion that begins in the middle of a masoretic paragraph – which only begs the

Vayigash: Responsibility- Jewish style

December 31, 2008, by

The stakes are high. Yehuda is pleading for Binyamin’s life (1): For your servant became surety for the lad, to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him to you, I will have sinned to my father for all time … and for his own! If you should ask why I involve myself in this

Miketz: Ready or Not, Here I Come

December 24, 2008, by

In a “big” parsha of dreams, ascent, drama, turmoil and tears, one “minor ” verse looms large: Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his clothing and came in unto Pharaoh.(Bereishis, 41:14) In this verse, with a stunning Seforno insight embellished by a beautiful

Vayeshev: A Divine Scent

December 18, 2008, by

“Other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?” It is perhaps the classic line that expresses the utter triviality of the small stuff amidst the major calamities of life. Such a moment appears in the craziness of Yosef’s sale. The brothers put Yosef in the pit and break bread: They raised their eyes and

Vayishlach: Human Angels

December 11, 2008, by

I’m back. That’s the message Yaakov proactively imparts to Eisav, the one man who stands between him and the prize – his beloved parents’ home. Their ensuing encounter becomes a classic manual on dealing with adversity and adversaries. But who were Yaakov’s messengers (malachim)? A simple and classic debate between Rashi and Ibn Ezra emerges.

Vayeitzei: The Whole Picture

December 4, 2008, by

Sonny was late for a very important meeting, circling around looking for a parking spot. “Please God” he says, “if you find me a spot, I promise to come to Mass every Sunday for the rest of my life!” Almost immediately a spot opens up, and as he drives into it he again lifts his

Toldot: Mitzvah Power!

November 26, 2008, by

Chapter 27 is a most dramatic chapter, where different subplots merge into a most unbelievable climax; a story whose conclusion still leaves so many unanswered questions – yet whose drama melds irony, complexity, sarcasm, sadness and ultimately yields triumph. Consider some of the questions: Did Yitzchak understand Eisav’s character? Yaakov’s? Wasn’t Yitzchak aware of the

Chayei Sarah: The Root of Blessing

November 20, 2008, by

“But the shadchan said, this one she will be different” – a not so famous Jewish folksong In search of a daughter-in-law, Avraham entrusts Eliezer with the sacred mission and tall task of finding the next matriarch – a spiritual fiddle to enhance Yitzchak’s brilliance. But it is not without hesitation (1): Avraham said to

Vayera: Our Greatest National Export

November 13, 2008, by

A quick quiz – choose the best answer: Avraham Avinu is synonymous with a. intellectual genius b. incredible kindness Both are true, and we could add lofty faith, love of God and many more items to the list – but what word pops into mind and captures the essential Avraham? According to Rambam (avodah zarah,

Lech Lecha: A Life of Loving – More and More

November 6, 2008, by

Everything about Avraham is love. Everybody loves Avraham and he loves back. Consider that only Avraham, in all of Tanach is called by God, ohavi (1), the one who loves Me. In turn, God reflects that loves back: Ki yedativ, lemaan asher yetzaveh es banav v’es beiso acharav For I love him, because he commands