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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 sidra 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 subsequent plagues, we read that it is G-d who hardens...

Va’era
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Va’era

HAVDALAH IN EGYPT Before G-d strikes Egypt with the fourth plague, he has Moses declare to Pharaoh: “I will make a distinction between my people and your people.” (Shemot 8:19). When the plague struck the Hebrews living in Goshen were completely unaffected. When we make Havdalah at the end of Shabbat, we bless G-d who...

Shemot
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Shemot

WHERE THERE IS NO MAN, STRIVE TO BE A MAN When Moses leaves the comfort of the royal palace and goes out for himself to see how his fellow Israelites are existing under Egyptian slavery, he is shocked to discover that an Egyptian Taskmaster is beating a Hebrew Slave for apparently no reason, and the...

Vayechi
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Vayechi

LIVING FOR OTHERS “And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years” [Genesis 47:28] Last week’s sidra concluded with the settlement of Jacob and his family in the Goshen region of the land of Egypt, where they acquired property and were fruitful and multiplied. This week’s portion begins by informing us that Jacob...

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Vayigash Instagram

View this post on Instagram #ShabbatShalom #Parsha #Vayigash #ModernJew #Joseph #spirituality #Faith #God A post shared by Mendel Cohen (@mendel.cohen) on Dec 13, 2018 at 11:27pm PST

Vayigash
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Vayigash

During another eventful week of political power struggles, I learnt about the influence of Benjamin Disraeli on the modern Conservative Party. Benjamin was born a Jew. Scholars debate the cause: maybe it was a quarrel with Bevis Marks Synagogue over £40 membership; the community’s insistence on him becoming parnas (treasurer); or a deep ideological difference...

Vayigash
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Vayigash

REVERED OR REVILED The blurb on Niall Ferguson’s biography of Henry Kissinger (Volume I: The Idealist, 1923-1968) reads: “No American statesman has been as revered or as reviled as Henry Kissinger. “Once hailed as ‘Super K – the indispensable man’ whose advice has been sought by every president from Kennedy to Obama – he has also...

Miketz
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Miketz

CHANUKAH POWER The festival of Chanukah recalls the military victory of the Maccabees over the vastly superior Greek army as well as the miracle of the jug of oil in the Temple, with the seal of the High Priest, which miraculously lasted for eight days, instead of just one. The great Chassidic leader, Rabbi Levi...

Vayeshev
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Vayeshev

PLAN B Our parsha this week begins with the words, Veyeshev Yakov Be’eretz Megurei Aviv, Be’eretz Keba’an. “Jacob dwelt in the land of the sojournings of his father, in the land of Canaan.” The word Vayeshev “he dwelt” has the connotation of wanting to settle down permanently. As Rashi explains, Jacob thought he could now...

THE MEANING OF YISRAEL
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THE MEANING OF YISRAEL

THE MEANING OF YISRAEL When Jacob wrestles with the angel, his name became changed from Jacob to Israel ki sarita im elokim va’anishim vatuchal – “because you strove with G-d and man and you prevailed.” Significantly, the word used is not nilchamta, ‘you fought’ but sarita, ‘you strove’. Rav Ahron Soloveichik (1917-2001 – brother of...