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  • Gather and be Counted for a Brighter Future!

    It’s a double parshah this week, which means that while there are many lessons to learn and many secrets hinted to when we look at each first possuk on its own, there’s a special meaning when we take them together.

  • Lift Up Your Head!

    A large portion of this week’s parshah can be pretty hard to read. We don’t like being reminded of where we went wrong. At least I know that I don’t – and apparently whoever divided the daily aliyos seems to have agreed since they divided it so disproportionately, making sure that the entire story of the Egel (the sin of the golden calf) ends up being read by a Kohen or Levi whose tribe was not involved in the sin so as not to embarrass a Yisroel by making him recount it. If most of the events recorded in this parshah are so ignominious how did it end up with a name like Ki Sisa?

  • Don't Forget Your Head!

    The parshah begins, ואתה תצוה – “And you shall command.” Since it’s practically Purim, I hope you’ll forgive me for mixing the Baal HaTurim and Ohr HaChaim and adding a dash of Chassidus. Maybe it’ll even be coherent when I’m through.
  • Pocket Change Creates Lasting Change

    Terumah means “donation.” You’d think that the parshah that deals with the so much of the construction of the mishkan, the sanctuary, would have a more building-oriented name, wouldn’t you? What’s so important about the donations?

  • Know the UnKnoweable

    This parshah is called Mishpatim which is also the name given to the category of laws defined by rationale and logic – i.e. “don’t kill,” “don’t steal,” “don’t’ damage property,” etc.

    At first glance, that makes sense, since the bulk of this week’s Torah portion gets into the nitty gritty details of precisely these sorts of mitzvos. However, if we take the parshah as a whole – which we must do when looking at the meaning of the name – this doesn’t seem to work all the way through. 

  • And the Living Shall Take to Heart

    We’re closing the first book of Tanach this week with parshas Vayechi and in this last Torah portion of Bereishis, we read the details of Yaakov’s last days. Despite that, the first word – and name – reads, “and he lived.” In fact, the word death/died isn’t used at all in this parshah...
  • Three-Way Approach

    “Then Yehuda approached him and said, "Please, my lord, let now your servant speak something into my lord's ears, and let not your wrath be kindled against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh.”

    When Yehuda approached Yosef with his request there were three ways to look at what was going on...

  • The End - A Lesson in Extremes

    In the beginning of our parshah, Yosef is at an all-time low. He’s imprisoned, alone, and forgotten. He put his faith in another human being and was disappointed. He hit an extreme, an end...
  • You Call This "Settled?!"

    If we were to judge Vayeishev by name alone, we’d expect a very different parshah from the one we get. The word “vayeishev” means “and he settled.” Reading this first possuk, one could be excused for thinking that the rest of the parshah would consist of enumerating Yaakov’s descendants and how he and his family began to settle the land of Canaan. But what follows instead? Terrible sibling rivalry, deception, and inconsolable grief...
  • A Sending of Angels and a Meeting on the Mountain

    Yaakov did this spiritual work of refining his own nature and his environs, and then he wanted to help his brother Esav, by lifting him up as well. So, he sent angels ahead to Esav. But the angels returned because the time when Esav and all that he represents would be transformed for the good had not yet arrived.
  • Shining Outside the Spiritual Comfort Zone

    Rashi says when a righteous person leaves a place it makes an impression for while a Tzaddik is in a particular city, he (or she) is “its magnificence, its splendor, its grandeur,” and when he departs, “its magnificence has gone away, its splendor has gone away, its grandeur has gone away.”
  • Children of Kindness - and Discipline

    While Avraham worked on bringing the word of G-d down to all the people around him, Yitzchak worked on himself, i.e. elevating humanity toward G-dliness.