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Posted on November 20th, 2017

Genesis 28:10−32:3

By Rabbi  Avraham Fischer, provided by the Orthodox Union, the central coordinating agency for North American Orthodox Congregations for MyJewishLearning.com

Blaming Society


We should strive to emulate Abraham and Isaac rather than emulating Laban, who compartmentalized his values.

Jacob had been involved in an act of deception, and now he becomes the victim of deception. After seven years of working for his uncle Laban, he wishes to marry Rachel, Laban’s younger daughter.

“And it was in the morning, that behold it was Leah. And [Jacob] said to Laban “What is this you have done to me?  Did I not work with you for Rachel? And why did you deceive me?” (Genesis 29:25)

Laban, the champion deceiver, tricked Jacob by switching Rachel with Leah.

Laban’s Excuses

Laban explains himself; after all, he is a recognized leader in the community. When he presents his excuses, he makes a not-so-veiled reference to Jacob’s own act of deception, in which he took the place of his older brother Esau in receiving their father Isaac’s blessing: “It is not done so in our place, to put the younger before the older.  Complete this one’s [Leah’s] week [of celebration] . . .” (Genesis 29:26-27)

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Posted on November 13th, 2017

Genesis 25:19-28:9

By Rabbi Nathan J. Diament, provided by the Orthodox Union, the central coordinating agency for North American Orthodox Congregations for MyJewishLearning.com

Synthesizing The Physical And The Spiritual



Rather than dividing the spiritual and physical blessings between Jacob and Esau, Rebekah saw the need for Jacob to receive both.

Parashat Toldot introduces our Patriarch Jacob as well as his brother Esau, and, from the outset, tips us off to the coming conflict between them. The Torah tells of their "struggle" within their mother's womb, and, as young adults, describes them very differently.

Esau is "a hunter, a man of the field," while Jacob is "ish tam," (a simple/whole man) who sits in tents. These textual descriptions, Rashi and Ibn Ezra point out, indicate that Esau is a "trickster," a man not to be trusted, while Jacob is a "simple" or "naive" shepherd, who spends his days studying Torah.
Who is the Victim?

Yet, the comments of these rishonim (medieval sages), which echo those of Chazal (rabbinic sages) seem to be at odds with the simple understanding of the narrative.

Consider, as events of the parashah unfold, who is the trickster and who is the victim. Even as they were being born, Jacob grasped Esau's ankle, trying to force his way out of the womb first.

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Chayei Sara

Posted on November 6th, 2017

Genesis 23:1 - 25:18 Genesis 23:1 - 25:18 

Rabbi Raphael Wizman is rabbi of the Young Israel of Commack in Commack, NY.

Sarah’s Legacy

The greatest tributes to Sarah's life were the achievements and character of her son Isaac.

The portion of Chayei Sara recounts the death of our Matriarch, Sarah, the purchase of a cemetery plot for her, and the marriage of her son, Isaac. Yet, this Torah portion is called Chayei Sara, the Life of Sarah, because, in truth, this portion tells the story of her life more than of her death.

Abraham and Isaac come to eulogize Sarah and to cry for her. Although the Torah doesn’t tell us what Abraham said in his eulogy, we know that her ultimate praise is her son, Isaac.

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Posted on October 30th, 2017

Genesis 18:1-22:24

By Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

To Bless the Space Between Us


There is a mystery at the heart of the biblical story of Abraham, and it has immense implications for our understanding of Judaism.

Who was Abraham and why was he chosen? The answer is far from obvious.  Nowhere is he described, as was Noah, as "a righteous man, perfect in his generations". We have no portrait of him, like the young Moses, physically intervening in conflicts as a protest against injustice. He was not a soldier like David or a visionary like Isaiah. In only one place, near the beginning of our parsha, does the Torah say why God singled him out:

 Then the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."

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Lech L'cha

Posted on October 23rd, 2017

Genesis 12:1-17:27

By Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, provided by the Orthodox Union, the central coordinating agency for North American Orthodox Congregations for MyJewishLearning.com


Educating Against Egypt


Through his experiences with his nephew Lot, Abraham learns valuable parenting skills.



The birth of Yitzchak [Isaac] is anticipated with prayers, prophecies and Divine promises. Moreover, his birth and upbringing are prefigured by the trials and errors of his father's two earlier son figures-one a nephew and the other a concubine's child.


The patterns and mistaken assumptions that cost Abraham the fidelity of both Yishmael and Lot also served as parenting instructors. The course adjustments in the wake of these disappointments contributed to the excellence of the third attempt. And although there can be no doubting the primacy of transmission through Yitzchak, the Torah's deference to Yishmael and to Lot's descendants suggests that even a failed son of Abraham is esteemed.


A careful reading of a small passage in Lech Lecha may illustrate how a crucial element in faith-training is discovered.


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