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Yitro
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Yitro

JETHRO’S JOURNEY In this week’s parasha, Jethro travels from Midian to the Sinai desert. But if we look carefully, we will see that it’s not just a physical journey that Jethro undertakes. It seems that there is a spiritual journey happening as well. Let me explain. At the beginning of the parasha he is referred...

Bo
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Bo

DID G-D GIVE PHARAOH CARDIAC DISEASE? Throughout the episode of the Ten Plagues, described in last week’s and this week’s sidra, we read of the ‘hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.’ For the first five plagues, it is Pharaoh who hardens his own heart. For the remainder, we read that it is G-d who hardens Pharaoh’s heart....

Va’era
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Va’era

FAMILY TREE The drama of the Exodus story has begun. Moses’ first meeting with Pharaoh has had its setback. G-d promises to redeem his people with four expressions of liberation that we reflect in our four cups of wine at the Seder. Then, in the entire sheni or second portion, the narrative is interrupted with...

Shemot
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Shemot

RIGHTEOUS GENTILES Persecution of the Jews begins, in history, in this week parasha. Pharaoh orders Hebrew baby boys to be killed at birth. At the same time, the Torah informs us of gentiles who refused to obey such orders. Pharaoh instructs women who are called HaMeyaldot Ha’Ivriyot – the Hebrew Midwives to carry out his...

Vayechi
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Vayechi

THE RIGHT BLESSING Simchat Torah night in Czarist Russia was an occasion not only of great joy but also great anticipation. The custom in some communities was to auction aliyot for sections in the Torah that were going to be read in the course of the coming year. It was the time of the Czarist...

Vayigash
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Vayigash

PUBLIC HERO VERSUS PRIVATE HERO The interaction between Judah and Joseph at the beginning of the parasha, sets the scene for two prototypes of greatness: the Judah-type and the Joseph-type. The public tzaddik and the private tzaddik. When, as a result of Judah’s impassion pleas, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, he does so...

Miketz
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Miketz

PHARAOH IN DENIAL One of the major concerns posed by global warming is rising sea and river levels. Only this week, flood provision in the Norfolk Broads was declared seriously inadequate and major problems will occur unless preventive measures are taken. By contrast, the economy of ancient Egypt was governed by the annual overflowing of...

Vayeishev
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Vayeishev

TORAH DREAMS This week, instead of telling you about someone who had dreams in the Torah, I am going to tell you about someone who had dreamed about a Sefer Torah! In the video version of this message, I am standing in front our open ark right by our largest Sefer Torah. It towers over...

Vayetze
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Vayetze

HEAVY LIFTING One of the most striking visual images in the Bible is found in the second portion of this week’s parasha. Jacob arrives at Charan. He sees shepherds gathered at a well with a large boulder covering its opening. He notices that they won’t be able to remove the rock themselves, until more shepherds...

Toledot
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Toledot

DON’T BE A PHILISTINE To call someone a philistine today is to label them as indifferent to culture and the arts. [The usage seems to have originated from a conflict between the cultured university students and the townspeople in 17th century Jenna, Germany.] The original Philistines are referred to in this week’s parasha. We encounter...