Avram and the Universal El Elyon

In this week's parsha (Lech-Lcha), there is a strange story about a war in the Holy Land between local Kings, and Avram gets involved in the end. There is an even stranger scene at the end of this story when Malkitzedek, the Priest of Shalem comes out to welcome Avram, bringing bread and wine, and [...]

Going into the Ark

The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the chasidic movement in the 18th century, wrote a lengthy treatise on prayer based on an innovative reading of one verse in this week’s parsha. When Gd instructs Noah in the beginning of Genesis 7, Gd tells Noah to “come into the ark.” The Hebrew word for ark, [...]

Gmar Chatima Tovah

As we approach the awesome day of Yom Kippur, I want to share a thought that I came across in a very sweet book by Rabbi Ezra Bick about the 13 Attributes of Compassion. ("In His Mercy: Understanding the Thirteen Midot--I recommend it!) The 13 attributes are based in the verses from Exodus (35:4-10) when [...]

L’Shana Tova

How does the past influence the present and the future? Can the future influence the past? The Former British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks teaches regarding the three sections that make up the core of the prayer service on Rosh Hashana, that zichronot, malchuyot, and shofarot correspond to the past, present, and future. His unique insight [...]

Tu B’shvat and Potential for Growth!

Tonight is Tu B'shvat. This is the new year for the trees, and the process of how the date was chosen is fascinating. The assumption is that most of the winter's rains have fallen, and from this point, the sap deep down in the core of the tree begins to flow, which will lead to [...]

Impossible? Try Anyway!

Friends, I saw a very powerful teaching from the Kotzker Rebbe (19th c. Poland) this week, and I wanted to share it with you. There is so much action in this week's parsha, as we begin the book of Exodus and the epic narrative of the Jewish People is shifting from the story of our [...]

Nesiya Tovah! Have a Meaningful Journey!

Shalom Friends, I hope that you are all doing well. This week's parsha, Vayigash, is the culmination of the entire Joseph story, full of drama and excitement (and I always find myself singing some of the ditties from the musical at this time of year!). There are many connections to Chanukah, which always comes at [...]

A Little Spark can make a Big Difference!

"The house of Jacob will be fire, the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for straw, and they will ignite and devour them." (Obadiah 1:18) This intense verse from the Prophet Obadiah is about the ability for the Israelites to overcome in the forces of Esau when the Messiah comes. What [...]

Brotherly Love

This week, I want to do a careful reading of a few verses in the beginning of the parsha and see if we can learn a message hiding within the Hebrew phrasing (it will help to look at the Hebrew of verses in Genesis 32:4, 7, and 12). In verse 4, Jacob is sending his [...]