VAYEISHEIV

VAYEISHEIV

PEACE IN OUR TIME? Cast your minds back to the period before 7th October. Jewish press around the world contained reflections on fifty years since the Yom Kippur war. Israel was no longer threatened with an existential threat from without. Considerable progress had been made on normalising relations with the Gulf States, and an agreement was even being worked out with Saudi Arabia. True, the residents of the south had to live with regular threats of rockets from Gaza, but Israel’s Iron Dome defence systems were making life manageable. The main challenge lay not from the outside, but from within...

VAYISHLACH

VAYISHLACH

WHOLESOMENESS Jacob sent lavish gifts to his brother Easu. He fought with an angel and was injured. He met his brother and the encounter was not as traumatic as he feared. The Torah then tells us: “Jacob arrived in the city of Shechem, shalem or complete.” (Bereishit 33:18) The Talmud, quoted by Rashi, homes in on this description of Jacob. It explains that completeness or wholeness can be understood on three distinct levels: He was whole in his body, he was whole materially, and he was whole spiritually. He was whole physically in that he had now recovered from being...

VAYETZE

VAYETZE

EINSTEIN AND THE MESSIAH A century ago, Albert Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity in which he developed further his ideas of space and time. The classical model of a world of three dimensions of space (width, length, and height) with time being an independent quantity, was superseded by an intertwined four-dimensional world of spacetime. It is fascinating to observe a kabbalistic parallel to this notion in the description of the birth of Yehudah or Judah. Leah, Jacob’s wife, had given birth to three sons, Reuven, Shimon, and Levi, in quick succession. The Torah then states: “She conceived again...

TOLEDOT

TOLEDOT

ESAU’S CLOTHING There is a glaring question at the heart of this week’s parasha. Rebecca instructed Jacob to dress up as his brother, Esau and ‘steal’ the blessings from his father, Isaac. If Rebecca thought Esau was unworthy of receiving the blessing, why didn’t she communicate directly with her husband? There were good grounds for her to object to Esau. His cravings drove him, not so much his spiritual self. He was a hunter-fighter, a ‘man of the field.’ His life was to kill or be killed. As such, he was ready to sell his birthright for a pot of...

CHAYEI SARAH

CHAYEI SARAH

SARAH’S STRENGTHS The first verse of our parasha seems unnecessarily repetitive in its use of the word, ‎‎‎‘years.’: “And Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years and seven years, the years of Sarah’s lifetime.”(Bereishit 23:1) Our major commentator, Rashi (d. 1105) makes an observation that, at first glance, strains credulity. He says: The repetition of “the years of Sarah’s lifetime” teaches us that all were equally good. How can Rashi say this? Surely, by any standard, Sarah lived a very difficult ow  How life. At age sixty-five, she was uprooted from her birthplace to travel to a distant land....