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You Say You Want a Devolution
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Hard work is one thing, servitude quite another. Hard work is respectable, respected, and laudable; slavery is humiliating, dehumanizing. When a person is treated like chattel, the divine spark with which every human being is endowed is eclipsed. More often than not, this is true not only in the eyes of the enslaver, but in […]
We Are Family
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In a sense, the entire first book of the Torah is a book of sibling intrigue, involving competition, jealousy and even murder. As Abel’s bloodied, lifeless body lies on the ground in a lonely field, God calls out to Cain and asks, or perhaps demands, “Where is your brother Abel?’ Cain responds cynically, “Am I […]
Love and Loss
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In the words of the great poet Alfred Tennyson, ‘Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.[1] Almost any person who lives long enough will experience and suffer loss; it is an inescapable fact of the human condition. Modern scholarship recognizes five distinct stages of loss and mourning: Denial, […]
Seeing a Ghost
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They never saw it coming: The dramatic, unexpected end to the saga in which they were embroiled was the last thing the brothers anticipated – and that was precisely the problem. The scrutiny to which they had been subjected seemed unwarranted. Why, of all the visitors who came to Egypt to purchase food, had they […]
Crime and Punishment
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The new chapter in the lives of Yaakov’s sons had started innocently enough: A famine in Canaan gave rise to a trip to Egypt to procure food. On the one hand, the brothers told themselves that they were doing what their father had asked them, and surely, in the merit of their filial devotion they […]
Family Dynamics
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It all happened so quickly: Yosef, the maligned and hated brother, approached. The brothers’ enmity rapidly metastasized, and they began to talk about murder. For his part, Yosef felt love and kinship toward his brothers – all his brothers – but his love was repaid with jealousy and hatred. How had it come to this? […]
Homeward Bound
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For Yaakov, life is never simple. After being abused by his father-in-law Lavan, Yaakov finally makes a break, only to be chased down and confronted by Lavan. After they reach an understanding, Yaakov continues his journey home, but he must contend with his long-estranged brother Esav, who, last we heard, had sworn to kill him. […]
Climbing Jacob’s Ladder
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On the run from a furious brother who is plotting his demise, Yaakov finally falls to the ground in exhaustion and allows himself to sleep. His mind still racing, he wonders how the situation has spun so far out of control. Only yesterday, things had seemed perfect, even idyllic; only yesterday, he had been part […]
Inside Information
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The home life of Rivka and Yitzchak was complicated. This is not to say there was a lack of love, honor or respect; in fact, quite the opposite is the case. Theirs is the first relationship the Torah explicitly states was one of love[1]. Indeed, we might even say that theirs was love at first […]
Man of Peace
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In many families, when a child reaches marriageable age, parents get involved. This may take the form of more or less subtle hints, comments or barbs, or, in some societies, active involvement in the process of selecting a mate. When our second patriarch Yitzchak was “on the market” (the modern yeshivish idiom is “in the […]