Shabbat VaYishlakh: How To Give

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר עֵשָׂ֖ו יֶשׁ־לִ֣י רָ֑ב אָחִ֕י יְהִ֥י לְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁר־לָֽךְ׃ Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; let what you have remain yours.” וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יַעֲקֹ֗ב אַל־נָא֙ אִם־נָ֨א מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ בְּעֵינֶ֔יךָ וְלָקַחְתָּ֥ מִנְחָתִ֖י מִיָּדִ֑י כִּ֣י עַל־כֵּ֞ן רָאִ֣יתִי פָנֶ֗יךָ כִּרְאֹ֛ת פְּנֵ֥י אֱלֹהִ֖ים וַתִּרְצֵֽנִי׃ But Jacob said, “No, I pray you; if you would do me this favor, accept fromContinue reading “Shabbat VaYishlakh: How To Give”

Shabbat VaYetze: Whence Antisemitism?

מַאי ״הַר סִינַי״? הַר שֶׁיָּרְדָה שִׂנְאָה לְאֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם עָלָיו What is “Sinai”? To indicate that from there, hatred – sin’ah – descended.– Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 89a We have been following the story of Ya’akov / Jacob now for long enough to recognize that he is no saint. Indeed, one of the most intriguing aspects of the Torah is that itContinue reading “Shabbat VaYetze: Whence Antisemitism?”

Shabbat Toldot: What the World Needs Now

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  – Dr Martin Luther King Jr. (1963) וַיֶּאֱהַ֥ב יִצְחָ֛ק אֶת־עֵשָׂ֖ו כִּי־צַ֣יִד בְּפִ֑יו וְרִבְקָ֖ה אֹהֶ֥בֶת אֶֽת־יַעֲקֹֽב׃ Isaac loved Esau *כי צידו לפיו and Rebekah loved Jacob. (Genesis 25.28) Commentaries have long noted that it is inContinue reading “Shabbat Toldot: What the World Needs Now”

Shabbat Hayyei Sarah: The Grace to Open

וַיִּקְבְּר֨וּ אֹת֜וֹ יִצְחָ֤ק וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל֙ בָּנָ֔יו אֶל־מְעָרַ֖ת הַמַּכְפֵּלָ֑ה אֶל־שְׂדֵ֞ה עֶפְרֹ֤ן בֶּן־צֹ֙חַר֙ הַֽחִתִּ֔י אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י מַמְרֵֽא His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre. (Bereshit 25.9) Sooner or later it happens to us: death comes to those who have had aContinue reading “Shabbat Hayyei Sarah: The Grace to Open”

Shabbat No’akh: There’s Still Time

What caused the destruction of all that lived upon the earth? The Torah describes the divine thought process: וַתִּשָּׁחֵ֥ת הָאָ֖רֶץ לִפְנֵ֣י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֑ים וַתִּמָּלֵ֥א הָאָ֖רֶץ חָמָֽס׃ The earth became corrupt before G*d; the earth was filled with lawlessness. וַיַּ֧רְא אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְהִנֵּ֣ה נִשְׁחָ֑תָה כִּֽי־הִשְׁחִ֧ית כׇּל־בָּשָׂ֛ר אֶת־דַּרְכּ֖וֹ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃  When G*d saw how corrupt the earth was, forContinue reading “Shabbat No’akh: There’s Still Time”

Shabbat Bereshit: The Fate of the Earth

The curse of farming, or, not all who wander are wrong On this Shabbat we begin all over again with Bereshit, a recounting of the ancient legends our people  knew about how human life began.  Interestingly, some of the first stories make no sense to us. We are mystified by HaShem’s choice of Abel’s offeringContinue reading “Shabbat Bereshit: The Fate of the Earth”

Shabbat Hol HaMo’ed Sukkot: Joy As Defiance

On this Shabbat we have come to the halfway point of the fall Sukkot festival. This time of year invites us to recognize our total dependence upon the fertility of the soil and the luck of the weather for our lives. The lulav and etrog which we wave in the direction of the four winds,Continue reading “Shabbat Hol HaMo’ed Sukkot: Joy As Defiance”

Shabbat VaYelekh: Beginning the Shemitta Year

On this Shabbat VaYelekh we have come nearly to the end of the Sefer Torah. Most of the parchment is rolled up on one side of the two atzei hayim, the two “trees of life” upon which the scroll is rolled. It’s a lot of parchment; a lot of text, of reading and studying andContinue reading “Shabbat VaYelekh: Beginning the Shemitta Year”

Shabbat VaYeilekh: We Went Forth

By Shir Tikvah Talmidah Hakhamah Emma Lugo In Vayeilech we find Moshe Rabeinu at the end of his life, and what a long and strange trip it has been.  Our beloved Moses was born into slavery but became the Prince of Egypt by floating down a river, he discovered the truth about who he reallyContinue reading “Shabbat VaYeilekh: We Went Forth”