Vayetze

Vayetze

DAYAN CHANOCH EHRENTREU זצ”ל – IN MEMORIAM Last week we received the sad news that Dayan Ehrentreu, Emeritus Head of the London Beth Din and the Beth Din of Europe, had passed away. Although he never recovered the power of speech, after his stroke more than two years ago, he was still able to greet people and bless them with the trademark smile that lit up his whole face. Dayan Ehrentreu was born in Munich almost 90 years ago. His family came to England just before war broke out. His father was the beloved Principal of Prestwich Jewish Day School...

Toldot

Toldot

DO JEWS COUNT? The Channel 4 film this week, Jews Don’t Count, made by David Baddiel, explored the double-standards that exist in society regarding antisemitism. The roots for differing attitudes to Jews on the part of their neighbours are describedin the Torah portions we are reading. Last week saw Abraham who was so admired by his Hittite neighbours. They called him “a prince of G-d in our midst” (Genesis 23:6), and they were prepared to offer him a choice burial plot for Sarah for no charge. By contrast, in this week’s parasha, Isaac discovered that the Philistines were trying to...

Chayei Sarah

Chayei Sarah

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON Scientists in Edinburgh announced this week that the bacteria that cause leprosy can reprogram liver cells to grow new tissue, an ability that may help to develop treatments to rejuvenate ageing and diseased livers. This holds out the possibility of discovering a mechanism that will reverse the aging process in general and could make the old look young again. There is an intriguing Midrash on this week’s parasha, which indicates that until the time of Abraham, no-one looked old! On the verse: “Abraham was old, advanced in years” (Bereishit 24:11) the Talmud suggests that at this...

Vayera

Vayera

IN THE SAME BOAT A group of people were travelling in a boat. One of them took a drill and began to drill a hole beneath his seat. His friends said to him: “What on earth are you doing?” The man replied: “Why does it concern you? I’m only drilling under my own place” They said to him: “But you will flood the boat for us all!” (Midrash Vayikra Raba 4:6) This 1500-year-old parable of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai encapsulates starkly the challenge we face in the world today. For centuries, we were able to dig holes in our collective...

Lech Lecha

Lech Lecha

INTRODUCING LOT What do you know about Lot, the nephew of Abraham? Lot was the son of Abraham’s brother, Haran, who joined Abraham and Sarah on their epic journey to an unknown land. Our Sages point out that it was to Lot’s credit that when Abraham told the Egyptian border officials that Sarah was his sister, Lot did not spill the beans. Abraham and Lot left Egypt as wealthy men but the family partnership broke down. Lot’s shepherds could not get on with the shepherds of Abraham. It appears that they took their lead from their boss. We read about...