At the beginning of this week’s parshah we learn that Eisav was coming with 400 men to attack Yaakov and his family. We are told of the many preparations that Yaakov took before this encounter. The pasuk says that Yaakov was very afraid, for as it is written: “vayira Yaakov me’od, vayeitzer lo” (Bereishis 32:8). Rashi tells us that this fear was not for his own life; rather this fear was that he might have to take other people’s lives. In Rashi’s words: “shema yehareg es acheirim.”
Like our forefather Yaakov, we too need to dream especially at times of transition and change. Whether we are embarking on a new career, getting married, graduating from one educational level to another, or considering retirement, it is critical to take stock and reflect before making that transition.
What in the world happened to the Ten Lost Tribes? How could we lose ten out of twelve tribes, 83% of our peoplehood?
Are we really meant to applaud Yaakov's behavior?
When Yaakov met Rachel at the well, he experienced conflicting emotions. He felt tremendous joy at having finally met his bashert, yet he raised his voice and cried. Rashi explains that he cried because he came empty-handed. He said, “My father’s servant came with ten camels laden with gifts and finery, and I come with empty hands.”
The Magen Avraham, in siman 42:3, says that one should not reverse the straps from his tefillin (shel yad and shel rosh), making the part that was originally tied as either a “yud” or a “daled” into the opposite end – which is either wrapped around the fingers, or just left hanging down. The reason for this is because the part of the strap that was tied as a “yud” had more kedushah.
On the 25th day of Kislev the holy light of Chanukah shines upon us to conquer the darkness, and proper adherence to its mitzvah purifies our souls. It is written that Chanukah is an extension of Rosh Hashanah and thus a most effectual time for teshuvah.
Esav truly thought he was getting the better part of the deal. He considered that as a hunter, whose life is constantly at risk, it was likely he would die before his father anyway. Therefore, when an opportunity to sell the birthright presented itself he jumped at it and immediately profited from the sale.
What does the parsha teach us about the nature of heritage?
After Yaakov received the berachos from his father and was leaving the room, the pasuk says, “Vayeitzei Yaakov mei’eis penei aviv, Yitzchak – And Yaakov left the face of his father, Yitzchak.” Rav Meir Simcha of Davinsk wrote in his sefer on Chumash, Meshech Chachmah, that the reason why the pasuk used a strange wording – leaving his face – is because the Gemara in Yuma 53b says that when a talmid leaves the presence of a rebbe he should not turn his face to leave; rather, his face should remain in the direction of the rebbe. Rav Meir Simcha continues by citing the Gemara: Rava acted in this manner when leaving his rebbe, Rav Yosef. Therefore the pasuk is teaching us that Yaakov followed this same process.
What Rashi's take on Sarah's life means to us.
The Torah tells us Eliezer’s system: “And it will be that the maiden to whom I will say, ‘Please give me to drink,’ and she will answer, ‘Please drink, and I will give your camels to drink as well.’ She will be the one You have proven to be the wife for Yitzchak” (Bereishis 24:14).
Rabi Yosi ben Rabi Chanina says that the avos where misaken the tefillos. The Gemara quotes a braisa that supports this view and cites pesukim from which we derive that Avraham was mesaken Shacharis, Yitzchak was mesaken Minchah, and Yaakov was mesaken Ma’ariv. Rabi Yehoshua ben Levi disagrees, saying that tefillah was instituted to correspond to the korbanos.
The great scholar and ethicist, Rav Yisroel Lipkin of Salant zt”l, was once in the home of an assimilated Jew in Vienna. The man’s daughter was an accomplished pianist.
Avraham Avinu was commanded with a supreme test, and one of the greatest challenges ever presented to man: “Take your son, your only son, the son that you love…”
The Gemara in Kiddushin 29a derives from a pasuk in this week’s parshah that women are exempt from performing a bris milah on their sons. The pasuk says: “ka’asher tzivah oso Elokim” (Bereishis 21:4). The Gemara takes from the word “oso” (him) that women are exempt. The Rishonim there are disturbed by the following question: why is it necessary for this pasuk to be written in the Torah when it is a mitzvas assei she’hazman gramma (time-sensitive mitzvah), which women are exempt from performing?
The special days of Tishrei have come and gone. But hopefully, we managed to elevate our level of spirituality so that we now feel closer to Hashem, even if just a little bit. I think that now is the right time to approach an extremely mystical aspect of Shabbos.
When Avraham Avinu was informed that his nephew Lot was captured, he waged war against the combined armies of the four kings. Miraculously, he was victorious and freed Lot.
In this week’s parshah, Hashem commands Avraham in the mitzvah of bris milah. The pasuk says that if one does not perform a bris he will be chayav kares. The Rambam writes in Hilchos Milah (1:2) that one who did not have a bris milah performed when he was a child must do so when he is an adult. He is mevatel a mitzvas assei every day that he delays doing so.
You thought that the Flood, the Mabul, was something that happened a long time ago. I did too—until I saw the Radak on a pasuk in this week’s haftarah. “For this to Me is like the waters of Noach. Just as I swore that the waters of Noach shall never again pass on to the earth, so too I swore never to be completely irate or fume at you.’ (Yeshaya 54:9)
Though history offers no hard and fast laws like we find in physics, it does provide us with some guidelines. One of the most important is that when it comes to making plans, “the enemy gets a vote” or as Winston Churchill put it: “However absorbed a commander may be in the elaboration of his own thoughts, it is necessary sometimes to take the enemy into consideration.”
The Rambam writes in Hilchos Melachim 9:1 that Adam HaRishon was commanded in six mitzvos, and Noach was commanded in a seventh. Adam was commanded to not do the following: worship avodah zarah, curse Hashem, kill, gilui arayos, and steal. He was also commanded to set up a court system. In addition to those commands, Noach was commanded not to eat from ever min hachai (a limb detached from a live animal).
While we wish the nations of the world success and prosperity, we realize that this feeling has not always been reciprocated.
He was known as one of the most successful and wealthy individuals in the country, and his fame seemed to grow as quickly as his profits. He was the envy of his acquaintances, the bane of his competition. So when the accusations were leveled against him it was an absolute shock. He was accused of murdering a seventeen-year-old girl and the evidence against him was incriminating.
The Mishnah in Sukkah 34b says that an esrog of urla (fruit from the first three years after the tree was planted) and that of terumah temeiah are unfit for use in fulfilling the mitzvah. The Gemara (35a) explains that this is because one of the requirements of the mitzvah is that one must be able to eat the esrog. Since one may not eat urla or terumah temeiah they are unfit for the mitzvah.