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It’s the Children
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The plagues continue; in fact, their severity seems to have increased. Pounded by plague after plague, the Egyptians suffer both physical discomfort and financial ruin. Although the Israelites had, for generations, been the engine that powered the Egyptian economy, the price the Egyptians were now paying to keep the slaves had become excessive. Did Pharaoh […]
Lessons in Leadership
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As we endure yet another election season, leaders and leadership are on our minds – as they have been since the birth of our nation. Of all the leaders the Jewish People has enjoyed or endured, Moshe was one of the greatest, and one of the most reluctant. From the outset, Moshe doubted both his […]
Redemption Song
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Very suddenly, the servitude that had been predicted so many years earlier,in the covenant forged between God and Avraham beneath the dark and ominous evening sky, had come to fruition – but with an unforeseen twist:The Egyptian slave-masters began to imagine that their Israelite slaves were subhuman and had no rights whatsoever – not even […]
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 […]