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Friday, December 06, 2019

Divrei Torah

The Value of a ‘Work Ethic’

Prior to fleeing his murderous brother, Yaakov’s life was peaceful and serene. He reveled in the “tents” of study exploring God’s word and pondering the deeper meaning of life. However, life had other plans in store for this quiet scholar. Hurriedly traveling to his mother’s homeland, Yaakov is quickly put to work by his

If or When?

Yaakov’s reaction to God’s revelation at the beginning of Parshat Vayeitzei is rather surprising. Although God had promised to watch over him and take care of all his needs, Yaakov responds with what appears to be a selfish promise — accepting Hashem as his God, on the condition that God will take good care of him.

A True Value

In 2017, a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci known as “Salvator Mundi” went on auction at Christie’s in New York. The winning bid, made by a Saudi prince, was $450 million. Incredible! Someone was willing to pay half a billion dollars for a rare painting.

In Parshat Vayeitzei, we also find a

Eisav’s Folly

Legend has it that 400 years ago, local native Americans relinquished ownership over the Island of “Manhattes” for the modern equivalent of about $1,000. In the public imagination, the trade of Manhattan for trinkets undoubtedly ranks as the worst deal in modern history. Even if this legend is true, this reckless exchange

The Land Waits For Her People

Famine: food is scarce, the sheep have nowhere to graze, what does one do?

Yitzchak decides to follow his father’s footsteps, do his basic hishtadlut (exertion, action) and move to a different country. At this point, God tells him unequivocally to stay in Eretz Yisrael and promises him that he

Be Thankful for Life’s Little Miracles

Rashi explains that, in ancient Temple times, a Korban Todah offering, a thanksgiving offering, was brought by “someone who experienced a personal miracle” (Vayikra 7:12). Rashi gives us examples of such: one who successfully traveled over the ocean, one who traveled through the desert and safely reached his destination, one

The Foundation of Enduring Love

I have often been asked why there are so many unhappy marriages today. The question makes me wonder about just how prevalent this phenomenon is. As members of our communities, we likely have observed painful and unfortunate examples of marital discord and divorces. The most current research surveys have also confirmed significant

The Value of Repetition in Prayer

Last week I stood at the chuppah of my older brother, Binyamin, and his kallah, Sorah Miriam. The room was filled to capacity with friends and family who came from far and near to celebrate with them. The joy was palpable. Both had been single and dating for two decades; it was the first marriage for both of them. Finally, on this

Respect: Inside Out

As a murderer, hunter, an idolater and a promiscuous individual, Eisav was the kind of person who lived for this world, taking advantage in all the wrong ways. But even from such a personality there is much to learn…

The Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 65:16) quotes Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, who

The Key to Celebrating Thanksgiving Each and Every Day

In thinking about the theme for this year’s series, my decision was impacted by the recent events in the life of our family. As many of my readers know, this summer we suffered the overwhelming loss of my twin sister, Adele, z”l (see August submissions). Yet, on the positive side, our family witnessed the amazing response of

Beginning of second machzor to coincide with Dirshu World Siyum at Binyanei Haumah in Yerushalayim.

Dirshu Kinyan Chochma Program Nears End of First Machzor

“We are all obligated to learn mussar,” said Rabbi Dovid Meisels, a Dirshu Kinyan Chochma participant, “but unless we have something that compels us to do it, a set program with tests, it often falls by the wayside. Our

Is Anti-Zionism Really Anti-Semitism? Does It Matter?

The parsha is dominated by two parallel stories of dramatic negotiations. Avraham bargains with the citizens of Chevron to secure a burial plot for his deceased wife. Afterward he dispatches his loyal servant to secure a wife for his chosen son, Yitzchak. In each instance, local “parties” must be convinced—to sell land or two