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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 […]
Men Behaving Very Badly
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The hope of a brand new world was quickly shattered. Sin eclipsed holiness and almost immediately, Adam and Eve were evicted from Eden. They had eaten the fruit of the one tree that had been forbidden to them. The sin, and its punishment, are both clear and unequivocal. The sin of Cain, though far more […]
The Shabbat App
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Heaven and earth, and all their components, were [thus] completed. With the seventh day, God finished all the work that He had done. He [thus] ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had been doing. God blessed the seventh day, and He declared it to be holy, for it was on […]
Sukkot – A Universal Holiday?
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The Talmud relates that in the future, when the nations of the world will complain about the preferential status enjoyed by the Jews, God will explain that the Jews are the “Chosen People,” because they alone are the “choosing people,” so to speak; they alone accepted the burden of the commandments, and chose to follow […]
(Don’t) Look Back
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We live in the present, fantasize about the future, and distort the past. The mind, homo sapiens’ greatest tool, can imagine a beautiful future and set in motion the plan to implement it. Alternatively, man can be weighed down by the past, unable to escape preconceptions, negative experiences, or abuses imagined or real. Both the […]