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Forgetting – and Remembering – Yosef
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As we begin a new book, we are introduced to a new king – and to a storyline that seems, to modern Jewish readers, all too familiar. The new Pharaoh is acutely aware of the presence of the Jews in his kingdom; so aware, in fact, that he feels he must devise a “final solution” […]
Who is First?
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In the penultimate scene of Yaakov’s life, Yosef is summoned to his ailing father’s sick bed, and he brings his two sons with him. Previously, Yaakov had made Yosef promise to bury him in the Land of Israel. As his final days slip away, Yaakov stands poised to bless Yosef’s sons and grant them equal […]
A Cherished Chalice
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As a young man, Yosef was a dreamer of dreams. There were those who considered these dreams nothing more than delusions of grandeur, but Yosef knew the dreams would come true. As a dreamer, Yosef knew how to read symbols; he understood things others often missed, enabling him to see into the future with clarity. […]
Worse Than You Thought
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One of the most horrific episodes in the book of Bereishit, and perhaps in the entire Torah, is the sale of Yosef. Jealousy morphs into hatred, which leads to the brink of murder: Brothers who seem devoid of any fraternal love, at first plot to murder, and then “settle for” selling Yosef into slavery-or worse. […]
Fighting Angels and Chasing Demons
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As he made his way back home to the land in which he was born, the land which was promised to his children, there must have been many thoughts swirling around Yaakov’s mind. The threats which had caused him to flee had not changed; only Yaakov had changed. Years earlier, Yaakov had run away, to […]
Limited Leverage: You Can’t Force God’s Hand
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Parashat VaYetze opens as Yaakov runs for his life: He had been told that his brother Esav has murder on his mind, that he intends to take revenge on for Yaakov’s deceptive acquisition of blessings that he felt were rightly his own – and Yaakov doesn’t stick around to see if Esav will make good […]
Carry On, My Wayward Son
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Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) was a leading spiritual, intellectual and communal figure in his day. Among his many accomplishments was the creation of an educational format that put individuals, both male and female, in the center. Not coincidentally, in his commentary on Parashat Toldot, Rabbi Hirsch took aim at the second generation of our […]
Walking Together
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Yitzchak, our second patriarch, is an elusive character, especially when compared to his father, Avraham, and his son, Yaakov, our other patriarchs. There is simply far less narrative and dialogue involving Yitzchak in the Torah. Nonetheless, from the scant details provided by the text, we can piece together a profile of his personality. Avraham was […]
The Chosen
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The concept of “a chosen people” evinces different reactions from different people; in fact, many consider it a double-edged sword. For some, it is a source of pride, mission, and responsibility; others believe it to be a divisive and damaging concept that leads to an inflated sense of self-importance and false superiority. Perhaps a better […]
On a Mission from God
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Avraham lived in interesting times.[1] He had to overcome myriad challenges just to survive – but mere survival was never his goal. Avraham had a vision, a mission: His goal was to spread knowledge of God, both “horizontally” and “vertically” – to his own generation and to future generations. Sometimes, though, Avraham faced challenges (referred […]