Good Night, Yaakov – Parashat Vayeitzei

Good Night, Yaakov – Parashat Vayeitzei

For fourteen years before this fateful night and twenty years after, Yaakov never lay down to settle in for a good night’s sleep. Now, Yaakov was spending the night at “the place”, precisely the spot where the Beis Hamikdash, Judaism’s holiest site, would some day stand. How could it be that specifically here Yaakov lay down for a relaxing and […]

November 20, 2017 at 1:44 AM 0 comments

Don’t Let it Go to Your Head

Don’t Let it Go to Your Head

The barrier that Yaakov formed around his head was obviously not the only protection he was relying upon, as it left the rest of his body still exposed. It’s possible that Yaakov didn’t erect a blockade around his body because he trusted that G-d was protecting him, but if so, why did he take extra measures to guard his head? […]

November 19, 2017 at 1:49 AM 0 comments

Gifts from a Minimalist – Parashat Toldot

Gifts from a Minimalist – Parashat Toldot

At the age of one hundred and twenty-three, Yitzchak was five years younger than his mother had been at her passing, and there was still a good chance that he would live another fifty years or more, as his father had. (In fact, he ultimately lived to 180, five years longer than his father.) Even his mother’s passing at the […]

November 16, 2017 at 1:25 AM 0 comments

Beneath the Surface of Eisav

Beneath the Surface of Eisav

  Yitzchak was blind in his old age, but he couldn’t have been completely oblivious to Eisav’s unrefined character and conduct. His intentions to bless Eisav, nonetheless, must have been based not only on what he didn’t see or know about Eisav, but on what he did see in him. The Torah relates that Yitzchak devoted a lot of energy […]

November 15, 2017 at 12:50 AM 1 comment

Better Off Blind – Parashat Toldot

Better Off Blind – Parashat Toldot

To say that blindness is debilitating is an understatement. In fact, Rashi comments later (28:10), “Because Yitzchak’s eyes had become dim and he was confined in his house, he was like a dead person.” Why had G-d caused this to happen? According to one explanation brought by Rashi, this was to enable Yaakov to receive the blessings that Yitzchak intended […]

November 14, 2017 at 1:20 AM 1 comment

Be Practical, but Spiritual…..

Be Practical, but Spiritual…..

Avraham could not possibly have observed all the mitzvos in their physical form. In order to physically observe the mitzvah of wearing Tefilin, for example, the Tefilin must contain certain parshiyos, portions of the Torah, some of which speak about the Exodus from Egypt. As the Exodus took place more than three centuries after Avraham’s passing, Avraham’s fulfillment of this mitzvah […]

November 13, 2017 at 1:13 AM 0 comments

The Fighter – Parashat Toldot

The Fighter – Parashat Toldot

Our patriarchs and matriarchs were perfectly righteous people. In the words of the Tanya (Chapter 23), “throughout their lives they sanctified their every limb to serve exclusively as a ‘chariot’ for the implementation of G-d’s will.” From where then could Eisav, the child of the saintly Yitzchak and pure Rivka, have developed an attraction to idol-worship when he was but a […]

November 12, 2017 at 1:17 AM 0 comments

Mitzvos for Misses and Mrs. – Parashat Chayei Sarah

Mitzvos for Misses and Mrs. – Parashat Chayei Sarah

A cloud began hovering over the tent immediately upon Rivka’s arrival. When she settled in and began going about her daily activities, Yitzchak noticed a special blessing in the food she prepared. When the candles that Rivka lit before Shabbos were still burning a full week later, Yitzchak became fully confident that Rivka was an heir to his mother’s saintliness, […]

November 9, 2017 at 1:34 AM 0 comments

Parenting is Forever – Parashat Chayei Sarah

Parenting is Forever – Parashat Chayei Sarah

Yitzchak was a grown man of forty when Eliezer set off to find him a wife. The strong education that he’d received from his parents had clearly left the desired impact. When, at G-d’s command, Avraham had sought to offer him as a sacrifice, Yitzchak had been equally willing to go ahead with it (see Rashi to 22:8). At this […]

November 8, 2017 at 2:27 AM 0 comments

Aging Well – Parashat Chayei Sarah

Aging Well – Parashat Chayei Sarah

When the Torah depicts an aging person as “advanced in days”, this refers not to the length of his life, but to the effect that each day of his life has have left on him. This is the meaning of the twofold expression, “old, advanced in days”, for it is possible for someone to be old, but not advanced in […]

November 7, 2017 at 12:31 AM 0 comments

127 Varieties – Parashat Chayei Sarah

127 Varieties – Parashat Chayei Sarah

In the story of Purim, the miraculous salvation of the Jewish people came about through Esther’s position as queen over 127 provinces, which the Midrash links to the 127 years of Sarah’s life. The correlation drawn by the Midrash is certainly not only a numerical parallel. Rather, the matching numbers serve to indicate that there is a common theme shared […]

November 6, 2017 at 1:49 AM 0 comments

Life is What You Make of It

Life is What You Make of It

Sarah’s life was far from uneventful or without suffering. Her years were colored by the painful longing for a child and then the joy of Yitzchak’s miraculous birth. The first half of her life she lived outside the Land of Israel; she moved there at the age of 65. She was twice taken captive by powerful kings who desired to marry […]

November 5, 2017 at 2:22 AM 0 comments

Sacrificing Your Faith for Your G-d

Sacrificing Your Faith for Your G-d

To knowingly give up your life runs contrary to the basic human instincts of survival. Yet, our history is filled with kedoshim, holy martyrs who accepted death rather than submit to a belief contrary to the Torah. Chassidus explains that they drew their strength from Avraham, who “opened the channels of self-sacrifice”, enabling his descendants to access the supernatural ability to […]

November 2, 2017 at 2:35 AM 1 comment

A Legacy of Dust and Ashes

A Legacy of Dust and Ashes

It was not only because Avraham humbly described himself using the metaphor of “dust and ashes” that his descendants merited mitzvos that involve dust and ashes. Rather, these two mitzvos in particular, the red heifer and the Sotah water, reflect the heritage of Avraham as expressed in his words, “I am but dust and ashes”. With these words, Avraham effectively […]

November 1, 2017 at 4:46 AM 1 comment

Judging by the Weather

Judging by the Weather

In the midst of conversing with G-d, Avraham sees three men approaching and runs to welcome them to his home. The Gemara (Shabbos 127a) learns from Avraham’s behavior that hospitality to guests is greater than receiving the Shechina, the Divine Presence. The question is, however, having no example or precedent from which to learn, how did Avraham know that it […]

October 31, 2017 at 2:43 AM 2 comments

The Basics of Hospitality

The Basics of Hospitality

“…And he lifted his eyes and he saw, and behold, there were three men standing beside him, and he saw and he ran toward them…” – Bereishit 18:2 וישא עיניו וירא והנה שלשה אנשים נצבים עליו וירא וירץ לקראתם… – בראשית יח, ב In Parshas Vayeira, Avraham interrupts a visit from G-d Himself in order to host three passersby (angels disguised […]

October 30, 2017 at 4:17 AM 0 comments

Lasting Effect

Lasting Effect

“…And my covenant shall be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant…” – Bereishit 17:13 והיתה בריתי בבשרכם לברית עולם – בראשית יז, יג “Our father Avraham observed the entire Torah before it was given,” says the Talmud (Kiddushin 82a). Chassidus explains, however, that the mitzvos our forefathers observed of their own initiative did not have the ability to impact and […]

October 27, 2017 at 2:45 AM 0 comments

Old Enough For What?

Old Enough For What?

In a covenant, the two parties commit to remain devoted to each other unconditionally, even if eventual discoveries or circumstances might be cause for them to lose favor in each other’s eyes. Yet, human beings are inherently limited and therefore undergo constant changes, such that there is no way to guarantee that even a covenant will truly last forever. The […]

October 26, 2017 at 12:01 AM 0 comments

The Reasonable Bad Guy

The Reasonable Bad Guy

Og was a rationalist and a cynic (see Beraishis Rabba 53), but he could still respect humanitarian causes based on rhyme and reason. So it wasn’t surprising that he’d encourage Avram to save his own flesh and blood from captivity. Yet, at their root, Og’s motives were entirely impure. For though the cause was justified and logical, Og knew that […]

October 25, 2017 at 1:42 AM 0 comments

Food of Fanatics

Food of Fanatics

Og’s encounter with Avram while the latter was fulfilling the mitzvah of Matzah played a critical role in molding Og’s plans. That is why the Midrash states two seemingly unrelated facts about Og’s name and his motives in immediate succession. Matzah is called “food of faith” in the Zohar. Avram’s engrossment in this faith-building activity reflected his super-rational commitment to G-d, […]

October 24, 2017 at 1:11 AM 1 comment