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Take Me Home
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As Yaakov nears the end of his life, he summons his son Yosef and pleads with him to see to it that he is given a proper burial in the land of Canaan. We are unsure why it is specifically Yosef whom he entrusts with this task: Perhaps only Yosef, of all the sons of […]
Becoming Yehuda
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Eleven sons of Yaakov stand, accused and threatened, before one of the most powerful men in the world, second in command in a regime not known for compassion or forgiveness. They must make a decision, and their options, though seemingly straightforward, are actually quite complex. Once again, a son of Rachel has apparently behaved in […]
Staring at the Truth
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After many years, they meet again. They had parted ways years ago, a parting that was the result of a unilateral decision taken by one side – the stronger side, the majority: The brothers of Yosef. Yosef had been unceremoniously cast aside, sold into slavery and apparently forgotten. A lifetime has passed; twenty-two years. How […]
Reading the Signs
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The situation quickly spiraled out of control:Words, dreams, jealousy and hatred – and then, talk of murder. Yaakov’s family had always been a complicated one, with children from different mothers creating a difficult dynamic, especially when there was a clear favorite: The “golden child,” Yosef. Yosef lorded it over his brothers. He was made to […]
Preparing for Battle, Praying for Peace
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Years ago, as then-Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin prepared for a critical meeting with Presidents Saadat and Carter, he stopped in New York on the way to Washington. There he met individually with three of the great rabbis of that generation, Rabbis Moshe Feinstein, Menachem Schneerson, and Yosef Soloveitchik. From reports I have heard, […]
Feet on the Ground, Head in the Sky
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Our parasha begins with Yaakov on the run; every aspect of his life is complicated. Although he leaves his hometown laden with blessings, at least some of these blessings were obtained under false pretenses. His relationships with each of the members of his family are clouded by these blessings, as is the journey on which […]
Stand-Up Comedy
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“These are the generations of Yitzchak the son of Avraham, Avraham fathered Yitzchak.” (Bereishit 25:19) Readers of this first verse cannot help but notice the redundancy between the first and second clause of the same sentence. If Yitzchak was the son of Avraham, then indeed Avraham fathered Yitzchak. Rashi, ever sensitive to the subtleties of […]
Negotiations and Acquisitions
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A strange negotiation is reported in this week’s parasha. Sarah has died and Avraham has a carefully planned agenda for the funeral arrangements. He approaches the local clan and asks to purchase a particular parcel of land owned by a man named Efron. Efron offers to give Avraham the plot of land as a gift,free […]
It Never Crossed my Mind
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The killing of any child is grotesque, the killing of one’s own child – obscene. But the challenge of Akeidat Yitzchak (“The Binding of Isaac”), in which God calls upon Avraham to bring his beloved son as an offering, is compounded when we recall all the years that Avraham and Sarah waited for the birth […]
Luminosity
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Great people are made, not born. Sometimes they are self-made. Avraham was such a person. Born into the dark ages when decency was not common, he alone discovered the light and shared it with the world. His legacy is not merely the impact he had on his contemporaries, nor is he to be judged only […]