Vayigash

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 been hounded by conspiracy theorists…” Despite having arrived in the USA in 1938, Henry Kissinger, to this day, sounds like an outsider. His Jewish-German origins are unmistakable, both to his credit and potential misfortune. In last week’s parasha, Pharaoh chose Joseph to manage his...

Miketz – Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Shabbat Chanukah

Miketz – Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Shabbat Chanukah

CHANUKAH POWER The festival of Chanukah commemorates 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 Yitchak of Berditchev‭ ‬ ‭(‬1740-1810‭) ‬poses a fundamental question‭:‬ Why did our Sages institute a holiday to recall these miracles when there were so many others that we experienced in our history‭?‬ The Bible describes many miraculous military victories‭. ‬For example‭, ‬in Book of Judges‭...

Vayeisheiv – Shabbat Mevarchim

Vayeisheiv – Shabbat Mevarchim

DO YOU RECOGNISE YOURSELF? A key phrase in this week’s parasha, is used in two startlingly contrasting contexts. When Joseph’s brothers want to communicate to Jacob that Joseph is lost, they kill a goat, dip Joseph’s coat in the blood, send it to their father with the words, Haker na – “do you recognize this item?” When Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law, has been accused of adultery and is about to be executed, instead of publicly revealing Judah as the man who made her pregnant, she takes out the pledges that Judah had sent her and sends them to Judah with the...

Vayishlach

Vayishlach

THE QUESTIONS ESAU ASKS US Occasionally, a biblical verse will leap off the page indicating that it has a relevance not merely to the time and place in which it was originally uttered, but for all generations. Such a passage occurs in this week’s parasha when Jacob sent his agents to bring gifts to Esau, ahead of their meeting. Jacob told his men: Esau will ask you three questions: “To whom do you belong? Where are you going? For whom are these before you?” (Bereishit 24:18) Rabbi Joseph B Soloveitchik (d.1993) explains that these questions are addressed to all of...

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...