Words Give Life

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December 3, 2021  

Joseph‘s Ascent

weekly Torah reading: parashas Mikeitz 5782

“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: "‘Forasmuch as G-d hath shown thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou.’” – Genesis 41:39, JPS 1917 Tanach
It is written in kabbalah, that for every descent, there is an ascent: apropos to this week’s parashas, we see Joseph, whose feet were placed in “fetters, His person was laid in iron; until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the L-RD tested him” (Psalm 105:19, JPS).

November 26, 2021  

Joseph‘s Trials

weekly Torah reading: parashas Vayeishev 5782

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a coat of many colours.”

– Genesis 37:3, JPS 1917 Tanach

November 19, 2021  

The Deference of Jacob

weekly Torah reading: parashas Vayishlach 5782

If Jacob had opportunity to seek divine protection from angels who would defend his entourage, he did not rely on this; rather, he made a three-fold preparation for an encounter with Esau: prayers, appeasement, and a defensive strategy.

November 12, 2021  

Immanence and Transcendence

weekly Torah reading: parashas Vayeitzei 5782

According to the Talmud, G-d may be both transcendent, in His place (hamakom) in Heaven, and immanent, for example, when His Presence, the Shechinah appeared at the Beis HaMikdash. Also, the Talmud notes that even though G-d resides in Shomayim (Heaven), He can still hear the whispered prayers of a penitent, standing near a column, during a prayer service.

November 5, 2021  

Sins of the Heels

weekly Torah reading: parashas Toldos 5782

“And the children struggled within her.” – Genesis 25:22, JPS 1917 Tanach

Esau was the firstborn, while Jacob was born grasping Esau’s heel. This is how Jacob received his name, Yaakov, meaning heel, or supplanter, because, eventually, he supplanted the rights of the firstborn. According to Akeidat Yitzchak, Esau would tread upon the very values that Jacob cherished, the values that Jacob emulated in his father Isaac, the same values of Abraham. Yet, it is those values that best represented the covenant made with Abraham, and the legacy of the Patriarchs. 

October 29, 2021  

The Bundle of Life

weekly Torah reading: parashas Chayei Sarah 5782

"And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah." - Genesis 23:1, JPS 1917 Tanach

Both the soul of Sarah, and the soul of Abraham are gathered into the "bundle of life," where the souls of the righteous are bound for chayei olam (eternal life). "Thy people shall all be righteous, they shall inherit the land forever" (Isaiah 60:21, JPS 1917 Tanach). The title of the parashas, Chayei Sarah (the Life of Sarah) points to the promise of an Afterlife for the righteous in the World-to-Come. 

note: this recording is better than the previous one

October 29, 2021  

The Bundle of LIfe

weekly Torah reading: parashas Chayei Sarah 5782

"And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah." - Genesis 23:1, JPS 1917 Tanach

Both the soul of Sarah, and the soul of Abraham are gathered into the "bundle of life," where the souls of the righteous are bound for chayei olam (eternal life). "Thy people shall all be righteous, they shall inherit the land forever" (Isaiah 60:21, JPS 1917 Tanach). The title of the parashas, Chayei Sarah (the Life of Sarah) points to the promise of an Afterlife for the righteous in the World-to-Come. 

October 24, 2021  

Prayer: Intentional Focus

The words of kitvei kodesh (holy scripture) have meaning above and beyond the words themselves, and must be understood within the greater context of the themes of the biblical narratives they portray, as well as their theological significance. The prayers in the siddur (prayerbook) may become an active means for inculcating the values, traditions, and beliefs of religion into our lives. For this reason, davening (praying) should not end up being a rote experience, performed without true intention or understanding. 

October 22, 2021  

The Essence of a Test

weekly reading of the Torah: parashas Vayeira 5782

“G-d did prove [test] Abraham, and said unto him: ‘Abraham’; and he said: ‘Here am I’ [Hineni]. And he said, ‘Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee [lech lecha] into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.’” – Genesis 22:1-2, JPS 1917 Tanach

The question may be asked, that if G-d is omniscient (all-knowing), why did he need to test Abraham’s faithfulness towards Him? According to Nachmanides, to “bring forth the matter from the potential into actuality so that he may be rewarded for a good deed, not for a good thought alone” (Nachmanides on Genesis 22:1, sefaria.org).

October 15, 2021  

Pivotal Points

weekly reading of the Torah: parashas Lech Lecha 5782

“Ten generations from Noah to Abraham, in order to make known what long-suffering is His; for all those generations kept on provoking Him, until Abraham, came and received the reward of all of them.” – Pirkei Avos 5:2, sefaria.org

“Based upon the merit of Abraham, G-d did not destroy again the whole world. Abraham taught them that repentance was possible, and therefore G-d did not destroy the world.”

– English explanation of the Mishnah; sefaria.org

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