The Winter of Our Youth

Parashat Vayechi Here in New Jersey it is cold and windy outside, snow is predicted for this week. We have truly entered winter. Winter usually gets very bad press in secular literature and popular culture. People talk about someone reaching the “winter of his days” in other words, he is shriveling up and dying. Winter is the opposite of summer – summer is a time of action and fun, a time ...

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Getting an Oil Change

I just returned from taking my car for an oil change and safety inspection. I noticed, in shock, that the sticker on the front was over the period and so I rushed to an inspection facility and had it inspected for safety (hoping and praying that I would not be stopped by the police on the way). We do not only regularly inspect our cars, but, as someone who flies ...

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Chanuka And Total Reality

Parashat Mikeitz The festival of Chanukah is very popular. Many Jews identify with it, and many because they probably misunderstand it. They either think of it as celebration of political independence, or as a type of nationalistic holiday. Really, Chanukah is about a clash of cultures - Judaism and the Torah versus the Hellenistic Greeks. I have nothing against the current Greeks, we are talking about the ancient Hellenists who, for ...

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I Have a Dream

Parshas Vayeishev Dreams feature prominently in our Parsha. The dreams of Joseph that precipitated his slavery in Egypt, the dreams of Pharaoh that needed interpretation, and the dreams of Joseph’s fellow prisoners, that eventually led to his release. The word for dream in Hebrew is “chalom”, spelled chet, lamed, mem. A great Chassidic thinker once pointed out that the letters of chalom can be rearranged to spell, lochem, fight, and mochel, ...

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Limping But Still Here

Parshas Vayishlach This weeks Parsha describes the dramatic encounter between Jacob and an angel, who, according to our Sages, represents the forces of anti-Semitism. The angel hurts Jacob in his sciatic nerve causing him to limp until the dawn, when Jacob is healed. The Torah goes on to say that for this reason that we don’t eat the “gid hanasheh,” the sciatic nerve of an animal. The Sefer Hachinuch, a 13thCentury ...

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Guaranteed Survival

Parshas Vayeitzeh Our patriarch, Jacob, has a vision of a ladder connecting heaven and earth, with angels going up and down the ladder, and the Divine Presence standing at the top. This vision terrifies him, because according to our Sages, the “angels” going up and down are really representations of the various kingdoms and nations that have tried to destroy the Jewish people.  Jacob then apparently makes a conditional contract with ...

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