“My Son, My Firstborn… is Israel!”

This week’s Torah portion begins the book of Exodus (Shemot) The book of Genesis details the beginnings of the Family of Israel. In Exodus, we will be forged into the Nation of Israel, after passing through the iron furnace of Egyptian slavery. At the “burning bush” the Almighty reaches out to Moshe and explains to […]

Esau: Give me some of the red stuff!

Esav (Esau) and Yaakov (Jacob) were twins. The first to be born was Esav, and he came out red (adom), and hairy all over, therefore they called his name Esav (Asui means fully formed). (Gen 26:25) Later, when he grows up he will be given another name, Edom, (which means red). So we might think […]

Korona, Ukraine, Koincidence?

Who started it, and who can stop the plagues and war? This week we begin reading the book of Leviticus, or VaYikra in Hebrew וַיִּקְרָא. In Hebrew, the 5 books of the Torah are named after the first meaningful word in the book. Here is how Leviticus starts: וַיִּקְרָא אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֵלָיו מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד […]

Surviving Exile – Joseph’s Secret

Joseph rose to the highest rank in Pharoah’s palace and became Egypt’s number one citizen. Yet in spite of that he remained true to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Here are some paraphrased words from one of my teachers, Rabbi Ze’ev Leff about how Joseph and his brothers did it. Joseph coached his […]

Sarah: A woman of valor

There is a Jewish tradition for men to sing “A Woman of Valor” (Proverbs 31:10-31) to their wives just before making Kiddush over the wine and breaking bread at the Friday night Shabbat meal. It sings the praises of the Jewish woman. Tradition also says that it was based on the eulogy Avraham made for […]

Dealing with the enemy like Abraham

Each of the Patriarchs represents a different character trait we strive to emulate. Avraham represents “Chesed” – “loving-kindness.” This manifests itself in performing selfless acts with a focus on helping others. This week’s Torah portion, VaYera (Genesis 18:1 – 23:20) continues with the saga of Avraham’s life and introduces us to the people of Sodom. […]

Abraham taught us “It takes a Village”

Genesis 18:1-8  finds Avraham recovering from his circumcision in the heat of the desert day. Yet, when he sees three men appear, he runs to greet them and invite them into his tent to refresh themselves. The Midrash tells us that after Avraham would feed his guests, he would ask them to recite a blessing […]

Fighting Our Inner Amalek

Pharoah’s army is in a deadly pursuit of the Jewish people as they arrive at the sea. Moshe tells the people, “Don’t be afraid… stand by and watch … God will do battle for you and you will be still.” (Exodus 14: 13-14) God performs the miracle at the sea: the Egyptian army is drowned […]

Jewish Slaves?

Why Did the Children of Israel have to Suffer as Slaves in Egypt? This week we begin the book of Shmot (Exodus) It begins with the enslavement of the Jews in Egypt and their ultimate redemption through the 10 plagues and the Exodus from Egypt under Moshe’s leadership. Since God had promised Abraham that his […]

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